Ortom Mourns as Boat Mishap Claims 24 Lives in Benue, Nasarawa


George Okoh in Makurdi and Emmanuel Ukumba in Lafia

The Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, has sympathised with families of victims of the boat mishap at the Buruku crossing point of River Katsina-Ala.

A boat mishap at the Buruku end of River Katsina Ala claimed 20 lives yesterday while 17 motor bikes also capsized in the accident.

Four persons have also died and others missing following a separate boat mishap that occurred in a river at Ashangwa, Lafia East Development Area of Nasarawa State.

Ortom who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Anthony Ijohor, visited the scene of the incident, accompanied by Chairmen of Buruku and Logo local Government Areas, some commissioners and special advisers.

He described the boat mishap as unfortunate and painful, stressing that a similar incident which claimed 17 lives, occurred at the same point five years ago.

He called on the federal government to construct a bridge across the Buruku axis of River Katsina-Ala in order to prevent the loss of more lives.

“His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom and his Deputy, Benson Abounu are deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident, and the Government of Benue State will ensure that the victims are given the necessary support. Our appeal is that the federal government should construct a bridge here at the Buruku crossing point of River Katsina-Ala to put an end to the frequent loss of lives”, Ijohor stated.

He directed that the bodies which had so far been recovered be deposited at the morgue of General Hospital Buruku while government would assist in the burial.

According to a source, the victims were crossing the river to attend a burial when the boat sank as a result of overloading.

However, the Public Relation Officer (PRO) of the state Police Command, Moses Yamu, confirmed that 13 bodies have been recovered while the search for others was still ongoing.

“A rescue effort is ongoing and we hope to ascertain the cause of the accident”.

In another incident, four persons died, while several others were missing following a boat mishap that occurred in a river at Ashangwa, Lafia East Development Area of Nasarawa State.

Narrating her ordeal to journalists in an interview, one of the survivors, Mrs. Felina Agwale, attributed the incident to the age of the boat paddler whom she said was too young to handle it.

Also speaking, the District Head of Ashige, Joseph Mamman-Amagbo, expressed worry over the unfortunate incident, and blamed it on negligence on the part of some individuals who allow underage children to paddle them on the canoes in the area.

The Executive Secretary of the Nasarawa State Emergency Management Agency (NASEMA), Zakari Alumaga, confirmed the incident, but added that he was yet to receive details. sHe, however, affirmed that adequate measures had already been taken to rescue the missing persons.

“I was informed of the unfortunate incident that happened at Ashangwa on Tuesday, but I am yet to receive details of what happened. However, adequate measures have been taken already to ensure that those missing persons are rescued.”