The Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bago, has expressed shock at Sunday’s boat accident that claimed many lives in Mokwa Local Government Area of the state.
He called for the use of life jackets for anybody boarding a boat in the state and condemned overcrowding of any boat embarking on a journey.
Twenty-four persons, mostly women and children, have been confirmed dead and over 30 people rescued, while a combined rescue operation by marine police and local divers in collaboration with Niger State Emergency Management Agency is ongoing.
The governor, who spoke on Sunday in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Bologi Ibrahim, described the accident as both terrible and undesirable.
“This is quite a shocking and sorrowful situation to the people of the affected communities and I share in their sorrow. I pray that Allah will grant the deceased Aljannah Firdausi,” the statement read.
While commiserating with the families of the victims, the governor directed the Niger State Emergency Management Agency to do the needful to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
Many others were said to have been missing in the boat accident, which occurred between 7.30am and 8am.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the incident had left the affected communities in mourning as the indigenes were searching for the whereabouts of their loved ones.
Reports about the number of persons that boarded the ill-fated boat were still sketchy as of the time of filling this report.
Also, the cause of the boat mishap remained unknown although sources around the area said the passengers were not wearing any life jacket when the incident occurred.
Chairman of Mokwa Local Government Area, Jibrim Muregi, who confirmed the incident in a telephone interview, said divers were making frantic efforts to rescue victims and recover more bodies.
The accident occurred in communities between Jebba and Kainji dam in Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State.
Meanwhile, the Overseeing Director-General General of NSEMA, Alhaji Salihu Garba, in a statement on Sunday, said the agency received a report of a boat accident and had since engaged divers to conduct search and rescue operations.
“Presently, the agency, in collaboration with the Mokwa LG authority and the community divers, is conducting search, rescue and recovery operations at the scene of the incident. So far, 24 corpses have been recovered while over 30 have been rescued as the operation is ongoing,” he said.