By Muhammad Bello
Victims of Tuesday’s boat mishap at Mgboudohia waterfront, a suburb of Port Harcourt, may have received mass burial. It is not clear whether or not those buried in the mass grave included two pregnant women and a small child.
Another unconfirmed version of the mass burial story was that after a joint meeting of the Rivers State government, the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council and the state police command, it was agreed that 23 of the victims whose identities were not known, should be buried together.
This was disputed by the Rivers State Police spokesperson, Ben Ugwuegbulem, who on Wednesday told THISDAY that “there was nothing like that”. Telephone calls placed to the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. David Iyofor, were not answered
“As at 11:45am yesterday, 26 bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl were found this morning having been rescued by the search and rescue team,” Ugwuegbulem wrote in a text message to journalists, adding that the bodies found had been handed over to the relatives of the victims as more efforts were still being made to find out more about the incident.
In the meantime, the state government has commiserated with the people of Rumuolumeni community and families of victims of the ill-fated boat incident at Nkpor River in Rumuolumeni. Governor Chibuike Amaechi assured the people that the government would investigate the remote and immediate causes of the unfortunate incident to avert future re-occurrences.
The governor spoke at the palace of the Nyenweli of Rumuolumeni, HRH Eze Ndubueze Wobo Olumeni, shortly after inspecting the scene of the boat mishap at Nkpor waterfront. According to the governor, “this people are our own people and they have contributed in one way or the other to the well being of this state, but unfortunately we have lost them. There is nothing any of us can do about it. But what we who are living can do is to try as much as possible to prevent further occurrences.”
Amaechi, who commended the local rescue team in the area for their bravery during and after the incident, pledged to speedily complete the road project currently ongoing in the area. Iyofor said some remedial work had been done on the road and urged motorists and residents of the area to avail themselves of it while government concludes its arrangement of reconstructing the road.