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Corps member, pregnant woman, five others drown in Bayelsa boat mishap

By AHERHOKE OKIOMA

A female corps member and a pregnant woman have been confirmed among the passengers that drowned after a boat mishap at the weekend between Otuan and Ayama communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Also among the victims are a mother with her two kids and a 70 years old Otuan Chief and father of a journalist in the State, Chief Lucky Daniels.

The boat and the bodies of the victims are still missing at the time of this report with rescue and search efforts ongoing at Ayama Community.

Available reports to The Trumpet in Yenagoa, revealed that the boat, with a capacity to carry 15 passengers, rammed into By Isaac Olamikan Edo Government has said that over 90,000 pupils from private and public schools sat for the 2022 Primary Six Examination held across the state at the weekend.

Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe, spoke to journalists at Olua Primary School after monitoring the exams in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Edo South Senatorial District.

The Commissioner, who expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the examination, said about 445 centres were used for the exercise across the 18 local councils of Edo State She said, “We have monitored the various centres across Edo South Senatorial District and the exams started on time.

This became necessary to ensure they finished the exercise on time to make sure that the pupils go a barrier while trying to berth close to Ayama Community.

It was gathered that the afternoon rain storm, which made all the passengers covered themselves with tarpaulin and reduce visibility may have contributed to the disaster. Mr. Domo Timi, a journalist, whose father was one of the victims of the accident, told The Trumpet on telephone that “my father was involved and rescue teams have been dispatched to check the scene for possible rescue.”

He, however, expressed confidence of more survivors due to the fact that most passengers were putting on life jackets. The elected Chairman of the Maritime Union in Otuan Community, Joseph Shedrack, told our Correspondent that the boat driver, Lucky Christopher, who survived the accident, have been detained by the Police Unit in Ayama over alleged reckless driving.

”I was chairman of the Union but some persons who claimed to know more than themselves have been taking charge of the Otuan Unit. If I had been around, i would not have allowed the loading of the boat due to poor visibility and bad weather.” He said preliminary investigations showed that the weather was bad and rain storm started but “those claiming to be acting allowed such trip.

I was told a Corps member, two children and a woman died. Even the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor have called me.” The State Chairman of the Maritime Union, Ipigansi Ogoniba, however told Trumpet that six persons have been confirmed missing and dead. “Six persons died.

When the boat got to Ayama, it had a mishap. One corpse was recovered and handed to the family for proper burial. While three adults and three children were still missing or probably dead.”

On the identity of the Corps member involved in the boat disaster, Comrade Ogoniba said the authorities of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has been contacted through the Community Liaison Officer (CLO), ”they are still searching for her corpse and we have reached out to the NYSC for her identity.”

When contacted, the State Public Relations Officer of the NYSC, Mathew Ngobua, told The Trumpet in a text message that he will get back to our Correspondent after discussing with his State Coordinator. But he is yet to call back with needed details as at the time of this report.

The Spokesman of the Bayelsa year and improved on our lapses this year. The take-away for me is that we shouldn’t even be doing this examination now, because, by September, which is the beginning of the school year, we already know how many pupils we have in primary six. So, why are we waiting till the last minute?

“We would be aiming to get this done by April and by the third term, we should be focusing on getting our pupils ready for JSS 1 and the third term will be a transition term for us.”

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She hinted that the Ministry plans to improve on the conduct of the examination next year, adding: “We will be introducing technology to help us know the cognitive ability of every child and help us produce a very robust analysis result to their parents. Our goal is that by August 2022, primary six certificates will be out.”

Rt. Hon. Funkekeme Solomon State Police Command, Asinim Buatswat, also confirmed the incident but said he is yet to be properly briefed on the number of casualties and what led to the accident.

Responding, NYSC in Bayelsa said: “We got the information and the State Coordinator and other staff left the Orientation Camp and went to the place. The State Coordinator told me that the corps member’s name is said to be on the passenger manifest and the said corps member is not at the lodge.

“However, we will make a detail report after the search and rescue or when the body is recovered. We are in touch with the brother of the corps member who also said she told him that she was to travel. “The NYSC will make an official brief when the body is sighted and properly identified. Thank you for the usual support at a time like this.”

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