Three teenagers, two boys and a girl have drowned in a beach at Mkpanak community in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The incident 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 meters away from the operational base of Mobil Producing Nigeria.
One of the eyewitnesses, Asuquo Isangdighe told our correspondent that 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, the source disclosed that one of the victims had just graduated from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron.
“They were five and two of them escaped from drowning and their ages were between 13 and 19. One of them just finished Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron. 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 demands. The two other corpses floated to the shores of the river on Monday and they were buried too at the bank of the river,” he said.
Mr. David Akpakop, an indigene of Mkpanak, who lamented that the incident was very pathetic however, said people do not want to learn, wondering 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. Akpakop corroborated the earlier eye witness said, that one of the victims just finished from Maritime Academy, Oron, however urged the council chairman to collaborate with the state government to set up a task force to stop people from swimming at the beach.
He advised the state government to also 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.
On what was being done to curb the incessant incidents of deaths at the beach, Akpan said: “we have a sign board 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.
Akpan called on the state government to make Ibeno beach a proper tourist site on the state to have proper access control on the beach. He also called on the State Government, stakeholders, spirited individuals, to provide life jackets in the beach in order to prevent people from drowning.
When contacted, the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko MacDon said he has not been informed about the incident. He however, promised to confirm the incident as soon as he is briefed.