‘Please let me dance well, I don’t know when I will have the chance to dance another one’

“Josephine danced well during a party to send off our JSS3 pupils. One of us asked her to stop, but she said, ‘Please let me dance well. I don’t know when I will have the chance to dance another one,'” one of her classmates said.

Could Josephine, who was one of the victims of last week’s boat mishap in Lagos, have had premonition of her death?

The motorised boat which crushed the canoe conveying her and other pupils in Irewe, Ojo, Lagos State, killing six of them, was carrying stolen fuel, according to reports.

The traditional ruler of the area, Osolo of Irewe, Oba Abduldeen Durosimi, told journalists at his palace on Thursday that the school children were victims of illegal oil bunkering going on at the Takwa Bay area.

One of the survivors of the tragedy, Evelyn Mensah
One of the survivors of the tragedy, Evelyn Mensah

On Wednesday, some 14 schoolchildren who were in a canoe en route to their schools in Irewe fell into a river after the motorised boat crashed into their canoe.

While eight of the children were rescued alive, six of them drowned.

The victims were identified as Jonathan Fiankyu, Nelson Fiankyu, Josephine Ajigbo, Patience Ajigbo, Imonina Briget and Kayode Nathaniel.

It was learnt that while three of the victims attended Osolo High School, the remaining three attended LA Primary School, Irewe.

Mrs. Veronica Friday, mother of one of the victims, Jonathan Fiankyu.
Mrs. Veronica Friday, mother of one of the victims, Jonathan Fiankyu.

Durosimi said, “There are 37 villages surrounding me. There are eight primary schools, but there is only one secondary school. There are about three islands that surround us here.

“The incident happened yesterday (Wednesday) when the schoolchildren were going to their schools. We have been warning the villagers against illegal oil bunkering. But some of them will not hear.

“It was one of them that was carrying fuel from Takwa Bay that crushed the children’s canoe, damaging the hull. But we thank God that not all of them died. Some survived.”

Chief Salam Mati-miloju, Baale of igira village; the village where the victims board the canoe
Chief Salam Mati-miloju, Baale of igira village; the village where the victims board the canoe

The traditional ruler appealed to the government to build boarding schools in the community to reduce the risks of children taking canoes everyday to get to school.

In the course of investigations, the suspected vandal was identified as one Folly.

It was learnt from residents that the person that paddled the children’s canoe also had his ears blocked with an earpiece. He was said to be listening to music.

A resident said the children saw the fibre boat approaching and raised the alarm, but the man was distracted.

He said, “The man that paddled that canoe had his ears blocked. He was listening to music and that was why he didn’t see the boat.

The canoe that conveyed the pupils
The canoe that conveyed the pupils

“By the time he knew, it was already too late. The boat broke the side. The children fell into the water, while the canoe sank.”

A classmate of Patience and Josephine who were both children of the same parents, Mojeed Rokibat, said their teachers did not initially believe the news.

She said, “One of those that survived, Michael, came into the class and told our teachers their canoe had capsized.

“But they did not believe him. Then another person came and said the same thing and that was when everybody started to run helter-skelter.”

Another classmate, Lamidi Shukura, explained that one of the victims, Josephine, had danced during a recent event.

“Josephine danced well during a party to send off our JSS3 pupils. One of us asked her to stop, but she said, ‘Please let me dance well. I don’t know when I will have the chance to dance another one.'”

While one of the children came from Egira village, four were from Okunfeiyiku village. Another came from Olomometa village.

However, villagers in Irewe community, where all the victims attended their schools, were stranded on Thursday as they could not connect to the three villages because there was no canoe to take them.

A resident said, “The man that usually paddles the canoe was the one that was involved in the accident.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has said that the bodies of six children who drowned in the boat accident have been recovered.

Press Centre at the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja
Press Centre at the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja

At a news conference in Alausa, Ikeja, on Thursday, the Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority, Yinka Marinho, said three of the bodies were recovered on Wednesday, while three were recovered on Thursday.

He said, “Eight of the 14 children survived the tragedy, but six died. What happened was that a motorised boat rammed into a canoe carrying the children to school.

“The captain of the motorised boat had been arrested and detained at the Railway Police Station.

“It was observed that the passengers in the boat were not wearing life jackets despite the fact that the government had distributed 3,500 life jackets to boat operators.”

The LASWA boss stated that in the next few weeks, 2,400 new life jackets would be distributed to boat operators.

He added that there were plans to distribute another set of 1,800 for the use of schoolchildren in riverine areas.

He said, “We are going to comb the nooks and crannies of our riverine areas to take a census of schoolchildren to know the number of life jackets to be provided for them.”

The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu appealed to those using the waterways to always put on life jackets.

Director General, Lagos Safety Commission, Odebunmi Dominga, said the government would enforce the law and ensure that people using the waterways always wore life jackets.

The Lagos House of Assembly, at its sitting on Thursday also called on the state government to ensuring strict enforcement of safety regulations on the waterways. They passed a resolution calling on those behind the accidents to be punished to serve as deterrent to others.



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