Three teenagers drown in Akwa Ibom beach
Three teenagers, two boys and a girl, have reportedly drowned in a beach at Mkpanak community of Ibeno Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. The incident, which occurred on Saturday, brings to 10 the total number of persons who have drowned in the popular Ibeno beach from last year till date.
The beach is a few metres away from the operational base of Mobil Producing Nigeria. An eyewitness, Mr. Asuquo Isangdighe, a photographer, said the victims had engaged in a road walk after which they dived into the river to have their bath.
Though the identities of the deceased could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report, Isangdighe disclosed that one of the victims had just graduated from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron.
“They were five, two of them got lucky and escaped. Their ages were between 13 and 19 years. The body of the female victim floated to the shores of the river and was buried same day at the bank of the river as custom and tradition demands. The two other bodies floated to the shores of the river on Monday and they were buried too at the bank of the river,” Isangidighe said.
Mr. David Akpakop, an indigene of Mkpanak, said that the incident was unfortunate and a sad development for the community. He, however, said people do not want to learn, wondering know why the victims would endanger their lives by swimming in the beach. “For now, the beach is not fit for swimming and on no circumstances should anybody swim,’’ he said.
He urged the local council chairman to collaborate with the state government to set up a task force to stop people from swimming at the beach. He also advised the state to set up a rescue team to save people from drowning at the beach.
The Ibeno Beach Management Chairman, Mr. Peter Akpan, expressed displeasure at the incident, saying he was not around when the incident happened. “We don’t want this to happen to us again. We want government to be to come to our aid and invest in the beach to make it a proper tourist centre.
On what is being done to curb the incessant incidence of deaths at the beach, Akpan said: “We have signboards at the entrance of the beach and in the beach, which reads that Ibeno beach is not safe for swimming. We have advocated that Ibeno beach is an ocean that is not fit for swimming,” he said.
He also called on state government, stakeholders, spirited individuals, to provide life jackets in the beach in order to prevent people from drowning.
When contacted, the Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer, SP Odiko MacDon, said he has not been informed about the incident. He however promised to confirm the incident as soon as he is briefed.