The horrific boat tragedy in Kwara State has been confirmed by the Nigeria Police Force.
The police confirmed that at least 103 residents in the Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State died from a boat accident that occurred on Monday.
This was confirmed by the state spokesperson for the Kwara State Police Command, SP Ajayi Okasanmi, who said the deceased were returning from a marriage ceremony on Monday when the boat that was transporting them capsized.
Okasannmi was quoted by PUNCH as saying, “The names of survivors will be made public as soon as they are available.”
Over 50 dead passengers were retrieved from the disaster, which apparently threw the entire local government area into sadness.
Though the Kwara State Police Command could not immediately provide specifics regarding the tragedy, the Chairman of the Transition Implementation Committee in Patigi LGA, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Liman, stated that approximately 110 passengers were killed in the accident.
Liman, while quoting from a statement by one Alhassan Bala Mohammed, a community leader in the area, said, “About 110 people died in the boat mishap in our area. We’re going to tell you about the tragedy and unforgettable memory that occurred to my people from our village and other neighbouring villages close to us.
“Our village people went to a wedding ceremony in another village called Gboti and the boat carried about 270 people, and almost 110 people were lost.”
Liman said from their record, 61 villagers from his village, Ebu, died in the incident; 38 from Gakpan; four from Kpada, two from Kuchalu and one from Sampi.
“This is an unforgettable memory and tragedy in the history of our village,” he said.
Etsu Patigi, Alhaji Ibrahim Umar Bologi II, the paramount ruler of the area, confirmed the incident, while the state governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, issued a message of condolences to the relatives of the victims.
The incident, according to checks, happened on Monday when the victims were returning from a marriage ceremony at neighbouring Egboti village in Niger State.
It was also reported that a river wave grabbed control of the boat, causing it to collide with a tree and capsized, dumping numerous passengers into the river.
According to village sources, the dead had travelled from Kpada village to attend a wedding event in Egboti village.
Source added that the catastrophe was caused by the boat being overloaded, and the boat capsised on the way back from the wedding venue.
Reacting to the incident, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman of the Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Mai-Martaba Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, described the boat accident as unfortunate and disheartening.
The statement was delivered by the Emir's spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Tuesday.
Sulu-Gambari, who expressed the condolences of the entire Kwara State Traditional Rulers Council to Etsu Patigi, Alhaji Umar Ibrahim Bologi II, the government, and the people of the state over the incident, prayed for God's comfort for the families of the victims of the boat mishap.
“Our hearts and prayers are with you at this auspicious moment and may Almighty Allah give you all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss this incident might cause you”, the Emir said.
He prayed to Allah to grant the deceased eternal rest with mercies and forgiveness and give their loved ones the fortitude to bear the great loss.