Police Order Investigation into Boat Mishap that Killed Nollywood Actor, Junior Pope, Others

David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka

The Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Adeoye, has ordered investigation into a boat mishap that occurred last Wednesday in Anambra West Local Government Area of the state, which killed popular Nollywood actor, JohnPaul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope and others.

This came as the police, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and local divers in the area are taking credit for the rescue of survivors of the mishap and retrieving of the bodies of deceased persons.

In a statement issued by the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Tochukwu Ikenga, said investigation into the matter was to know if there is any criminal activity behind the mishap.

He said: “Preliminary enquiry has given insight into the cause of the accident, but exhaustive investigation has been ordered by the Commissioner of Police with a view to determining criminal liability of any person, if any, in the mishap.

“CP Aderemi Adeoye commiserates with family, friends and fans of the actors who died in the boat mishap. He prayed Almighty God to grant their souls a sweet repose.”

Speaking of the efforts of the Command to rescue the victims, Ikenga said: “On being notified of the boat capsize, Anambra State Command Marine Police deployed for rescue operations and successfully rescued six actors and one actress from the water.

“Two others, who were unconscious, were also pulled out with the aid of fishermen and conveyed to the Delta State Command Marine Police Jetty where other members of the crew who travelled in the first boat were waiting and handed over to the president of the Actors Guild for conveyance to the hospital while the rescue team went back in search of three others.

“Although the accident happened within the jurisdiction of Anambra State Command, issues relating to release of bodies of the accident victims for a decent burial are to be handled by the Delta State Police Command.”

Meanwhile, NIWA has claimed that its operatives were the ones who rescued the actors.

NIWA Area Manager in Onitsha, Mr. Suleiman Nicholas, in an interview said the incident didn’t happen in Anam, Anambra West, as being reported but actually happened at the Akpaka, a high brow suburb of Onitsha and Nsugbe in Anambra East LGA.

According to Nicholas, “There were 12 persons that boarded the ill-fated boat, which was almost getting to its destination when it capsized.

“Three persons are still missing, they are two female, and one male. Our men are already at the scene of the incident at Akpaka area conducting rescue and recovery activities, with the men of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and Marine Police.”

There was, however, another version from eyewitnesses from the area, which have been seen on social media, which claimed that the victims were rescued and deceased’s bodies recovered by local divers, which was constituted of fishermen, who were around when the incident happened.

One of the survivors, TC Okafor, in a video said it was local fishermen who used their fishing nets to recover the body of Junior Pope, and another person who lost his life.

Both police and NIWA, however, agreed that three of the victims of the capsized boat were still missing and are still being searched for.

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