By Muhammadu Sabiu
Mokwa Local Government Area, Niger State, witnessed a devastating boat accident on Sunday, leaving 24 lives tragically lost and many more in distress.
Niger State Governor Mohammed Bago expressed his profound shock at the incident and has since called for immediate safety measures.
The accident occurred between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. in communities situated between Jebba and the Kainji dam. Most of the victims were women and children.
Over 30 individuals have been rescued so far, thanks to the combined efforts of the marine police, local divers, and the Niger State Emergency Management Agency.
Governor Bago, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Bologi Ibrahim, conveyed his deep condolences to the affected families.
He described the incident as “terrible and undesirable” and prayed for the souls of the departed to rest in Aljannah Firdausi.
Expressing his concern, Governor Bago called for the mandatory use of life jackets by anyone boarding a boat in the state.
He strongly condemned overcrowding on boats, emphasizing the need for strict adherence to safety guidelines. The exact number of passengers on the ill-fated boat is still unclear, but reports suggest that many were not wearing life jackets, which may have contributed to the tragedy.
The Chairman of Mokwa Local Government Area, Jibrim Muregi, confirmed the ongoing efforts by divers to rescue victims and recover more bodies from the scene.
Meanwhile, the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, led by Alhaji Salihu Garba, is collaborating closely with local authorities and divers in search, rescue, and recovery operations.
As the rescue operation continues, the affected communities are plunged into mourning, with residents anxiously searching for their missing loved ones.
The cause of the boat mishap remains unknown, underscoring the urgency of improving safety measures and enforcing strict compliance with regulations governing water transportation in the state.