From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Families of the 26 persons who lost their lives in a boat mishap on River Benue in Makurdi, the state capital on Sunday afternoon have intensified search to recover their remains.
Our correspondent learnt that 26 children and youths of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Adeke Makurdi local government area were on their way to an annual conference known as (New Life for All) ‘Sabo Rai’ in Hausa Parlance when a boat which they were traveling in capsized midstream around Ijaha community.
The victims were crossing from Agbor, Innyongu Area of Wadata to a village in an island opposite Kwaghter called Ole-Gabu, for their Annual Church Retreat.
It was further gathered that the victims were children and relatives of Mobile Policemen who reside at the MOPOL 13 Barracks, Adeke Makurdi. Most of these Mobile Policemen are said to be on Special Duty in the North East leaving their wives and children in Makurdi.
Although, the state Police Command had earlier confirmed that 21 persons were missing in the boat mishap and that the boat was conveying members of ECAN Church Ijaha, the victims were later discovered to be children and youths of ECWA Church Adeke.
At the time of filing this report, only one corpse of a female victim had been recovered while families of other victims were making frantic efforts through local divers and Marine Police to recover their corpses.
When our Correspondent visited the Barracks yesterday morning, mourners had besieged the place and were seen consoling families some of whom lost five children, three(3) children, two(2) children and one child to the boat mishap.
District Church Council (DCC) Secretary of ECWA Church, Rev. Benjamin Dooga who led all Pastors of the District to commiserate with families of victims told Journalists that as sad as the incidence was, the Church had surrendered to the will of God who knows and understands all things.
“The church as believers in Jesus believes God is Supreme and no human can question his authority. Since we are human we cannot understand what has happened but He understands.
“What has happened is for the good of the church. Pastors of ECWA within Makurdi have come to identify with the affected families.
“We should all know that this world is nothing so people should come back to God because we don’t know when we will leave this planet earth. So, we should live our lives as if we are going to die tomorrow,” Dooga said.
At the time of filing this report, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Catherine Anene confirmed that three(3) corpses have so far been recovered from the river while efforts are being made to recover the remaining bodies.
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Samuel Ortom has deeply sympathized with families of the victims of the incident.
The Governor, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, described the incident as ‘painful’ and ‘unfortunate’ and particularly consoled ECWA Church, Adeke, Makurdi Local Government Area whose members were involved in the boat mishap.
“The Governor urged members of Kwaghter community where the incident took place to cooperate with the police rescue team to enable it find the missing persons.
“He reminded Benue people about this year’s weather predictions on torrential rains and advised that those who travel by water should employ all safety measures to avoid unforeseen incidents.
“Governor Ortom enjoined Benue people to always observe COVID-19 preventive measures by staying away from crowded places to curb the spread of the disease,” the statement read.