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29 Survive Calabar Boat Mishap

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About 29 persons, including two who survived by clinging to a cooking gas cylinder, have been rescued after a boat capsized offshore Calabar, Cross River State, with an estimated 128 people onboard, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) official said last Thursday.

The boat had set off on Friday from Benin Republic, overloaded with passengers who had hoped to find work in Gabon, Head, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency  (CRSEMA), Vincent Aquah, said, citing survivor accounts.

The vessel had stopped at the Oron port in Akwa Ibom State, to collect more passengers but two hours after returning to sea, the engine began taking on water.

The captain told passengers to pray, telling them, “we are in serious trouble”, according to Aquah’s account.

As the boat began to sink, passengers jumped into the water, with the captain and three others grabbing hold of the floating cylinder.

“But after some hours, the captain and another passenger, a woman, could no longer hold on, and fell into the water,” Aquah explained.

A 27-year old man from Togo, and a 14-year old girl from Benin, managed to continue clinging to the makeshift raft.

They said that as they drifted, they saw a flame coming from an offshore oil field operated by the Chinese firm, Addax Petroleum.

A foreign oil worker on the platform, who spotted them, dispatched a boat to rescue the two, said Aquah.

“We have 29 survivors so far from the boat accident,” he told newsmen in Calabar yesterday, adding that the total number of bodies recovered so far remained at nine.

There were previous indications that the boat had originated from Congo-Brazzaville, but Aquah insisted those accounts were inaccurate.

The vessel is believed to have capsized at Malabo, 40 nautical miles (60 kilometres) off the coast of Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

Aquah specified that two of the survivors had been brought to Calabar, while 27 others were in Oron, Akwa Ibom State.

The rescue operation began on Sunday, and “the search for the remaining passengers is still on,” Aquah said, adding that the wreckage of the ship had not yet been located.

Corroborating Aquah’s account, Coordinator, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Olayemi Abass, said “some 27 of the survivors were taken to Oron and two brought to Calabar. Those in Calabar are receiving treatment at Bakorm Medical Centre, Calabar.”

Abass indicated that the wooden passenger boat, which conveyed a total 128 passengers, including three Nigerians, and others from Togo, Benin, Ghana, and Niger, was on an illegal journey to Gabon, when the iunforunate incident occurred.

It would be recalled that in July, 2012, a ferry sank in choppy waters as it crossed from mainland Tanzania to the island of Zanzibar, leaving at least, 104 people drowned.

Zanzibar authorities charged three people with manslaughter over the sinking of the ship, the MV Skagit, including its owner and captain.

In September, 2010, more than 200 people perished when the MV Spice Islander, which the authorities admitted was overloaded, sank while sailing between two of the main islands in the Zanzibar archipelago.

Rescue workers saved 619 passengers in that terrifying incident.

Meanwhile, at least, 50 persons drowned and some 35 were reported missing after a boat accident on a river in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo in July, 2011.

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Niger Delta

A’Ibom Moves To Enforce Ban On Motorcycles

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Akwa Ibom State Government has set up a task force to enforce its decisions to ban the use of motorcycles for transport within Uyo metropolis.
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters and Special Services, Mr. Iniobong Ekong, said government’s action became necessary to ensure directives were obeyed for safety and security of the people..
He said: “We have seen ugly development involving Okada, especially in Uyo metropolis, and parts of Uyo capital city. This has not, in any way, helped the positivity of our security architecture.
He added that the enforcement became imperative to tackle internal insecurity in the state, noting that most heinous crimes, such as rape, burglary, stealing were being perpetuated with motorcycles.
Ekong disclosed that a mobile court would be sitting in Ibom Hall Uyo for trial of defaulters, adding that motorcycles seized would be crushed publicly as arrangements had been concluded with a crushing company from Aba, Abia State.
Addressing law enforcement officers, he charged them to be diligent and not to engage in physical combat with defaulters, as there exist laws to handle them.
“Again, we have seen the menace of scrap operators on the livelihood and peace of our people. Actually, government has not in any way positioned itself to block peoples’ sources of livelihood, but the freedom of one to conduct business must not impede on the right of existence of the other.
Also on the list of banned activities include; scavenging and open grazing.
“Government will not keep quiet and allow ‘entrepreneurs’ who want to survive and grow their businesses at the expense of freedom and livelihood of any other person. Every other citizen or resident is equal to the other in all ramifications and government has the responsibility to guarantee freedom, safety and peace for all,” Ekong reaffirmed.
Recall that the state government, through the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, had on January 4, 2022 banned the activities of scavengers in the wake of death of three persons caused by face-off between scavengers and indigenes of Oku community in Uyo council area.

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Niger Delta

Delta 2023: Okowa Urges Political Aspirants To Seek God’s Face

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Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has urged political aspirants to seek the face of God in the positions they are vying for ahead of the 2023 elections.
Governor Okowa gave the advice at a thanksgiving service at the Government House Chapel, Asaba.
He said, “pray with us, pray for us and pray about the State.”
“Whatever positions we are contesting for, let us seek the face of God because if you genuinely pray, God will reveal His will for you.
“As a man, I will also try to avoid people pushing me to a direction that God is not pleased with because if God has made a choice and we go in the wrong direction, it will not augur well for the State.”
He cautioned political stakeholders on the need to concentrate on governance and not be distracted ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Let us approach the next few months with the oneness of love. Towards the end of every administration, there are usually distractions here and there.
“But one thing is sure, whoever will succeed me must be one who keeps the fire in this altar burning, and God must direct me on the choice of the person.
“I can never take the place of God in deciding who will succeed me; I will pray for God to direct me and not a man so that I don’t go in the wrong direction”.
Governor Okowa also appealed to politicians as well as stakeholders to pray for the oneness and unity in the state.

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Niger Delta

Bayelsa Dep Gov Warns Against Disturbances On Western Senatorial Road Project

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Bayelsa State Government has warned youths of the area against unnecessary interference with ongoing projects funded by the state, in particular the Sagbama-Ekeremor road project in the state’s West Senatorial district.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who issued the warning at a meeting with traditional rulers and youth presidents of some communities in Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Area in Government House, Yenagoa, recently urged the youths to refrain from collecting illegal taxes from contractors.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Deputy Governor, Mr Doubara Atasi, the Deputy Governor was quoted expressing his displeasure over the alleged harassment of truck drivers conveying materials being used for the construction of the road by youths demanding different kinds of revenue.
The state’s number two citizen warned youths involved in such acts in any part of the state to either desist from the unwholesome practice or face the wrath of the law.
He directed the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure to issue letters of authority to truck drivers supplying raw materials to Setraco, the contractor handling the road so as to enable them enjoy tax waivers and unfettered movement.
Addressing the community leaders, the deputy governor maintained that government attaches high premium on taking the road to Ekeremor Town before the end of this year, noting that government would not tolerate any bottleneck that will slow down the pace of work, just as he constituted a 20-member patrol taskforce to check the issue of illegal tax collection on the road.
Members of the Taskforce include, the Chairman of Sagbama Local Government Area, Mr Alale Embeleakpo and the Divisional Police Officers in charge of Sagbama Town, Ekeremor Town and Aleibiri Federated Community.
Other members are one representative each from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Sagbama, Aleibiri and Ekeremor as well as youth presidents of Adagbabiri, Sagbama, Ofoni, Ayamasa, Isampou and Ekeremor communities.
Other members are, the paramount rulers of Angiama, Aleibiri, Ofoni, and a nominee from the Amananaowei of Ekeremor, His Royal Highness Agbodo Gbaseimo.
The Tide reports that the taskforce, which is divided into two to patrol the road from the Adagbabiri and Ekeremor ends to Bulou Orua Bridge, also has the state Government Revenue Agent, Mr Doubara Kumokou, and the Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) in charge of Bayelsa West and Oporomor Clan as members.
“You will be divided into two. Some of you will patrol from Adagbabiri to Bulou Orua bridge, while the other group is to patrol from the Ekeremor/ Aleibiri end to the Bulou Orua Bridge also.
“You will be mobilized to carry out this task effectively because government will not tolerate any situation that will slow down the pace of work on that project.
“Henceforth nobody should go to any of our project sites to do any ‘marching ground thing’ with our contractors because the money we give them does not include that. We know of things you will ask from contractors that are your legitimate rights.
”But certainly not collection of money from truck drivers supplying stone base and other materials for our contractors. That must stop forthwith, “The deputy governor said.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Surveyor Moses Teibowei, called on people of the area to play supportive role to enable the present administration achieve its set target on the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road project.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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