National News

Man drowns at naval checkpoint in N’Delta without officers allegedly rescuing him

By Ebi Perekeme

The people of New Jerusalem Zion in Oporoza of Gbaramatu kingdom, Delta state were in the early hours of today, May 2, thrown into sadness as the lifeless body of their son, Mr. Michael Brakemi Uyabor, was recovered from the river.

It was leant that Uyabor, who was 30 drowned in the presence of naval officers and they allegedly could not rescue him.

The naval personnel were said to be those stationed Kandagha military checkpoint in Burutu Local Government Area with military house boat stationed at their beck and call.

Our correspondent gathered that with all the military equipment known of navy at their disposal, they played the ostrich to rescue Uyabor who was drowning and needed help.

According to a family source that would prefer anonymity, “Michael Brakemi Uyabor, 30, a father of some children, traveled from Warri on Saturday, April 25, to Okibo Zion in Burutu LGA, Delta state, for a business trip.

“After spending some days there, he entered a transport boat (speedboat) from Agge community in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State with 3 passengers, excluding the sailor who made them four, on Thursday, April 30, to Warri.

“On their way to Warri, the boat stopped over at Kandagha (a navy check point) for military regular check, which is routine in the Niger Delta of today.

“At this point, the boat started sinking and the navy personnel paid lackadaisical attitude to rescue the drowning passengers and the sailor. It was in the presence of the naval checkpoint that the boat sank without the Navy rescuing the occupants of the boat.

“On that Thursday, there was a thorough search of Uyabor but his dead and bloated body was only discovered afloat at Agge River, close to the Navy check point, and was immediately taken for burial in New Jerusalem Zion, Oporoza town, Gbaramatu kingdom.”

Our correspondent was later briefed by the sailor of the boat, who survived the incident, saying, “I was the driver. My boat started sinking when the navy stopped us at Kandagha for routine check.

“I was able to rescue two of the three passengers but before I could come back for Uyabor, he was gone. I was very tired.”

When contacted, the President of the Progressive Youths of New Jerusalem Zion, Oporoza, Mr. Francis Igelemo was bemused on the circumstances that led to the death of Uyabor, whom he described as a “Youngman loved by all”.

According to Igelemo, “Our son, Michael Brakemi Uyabor was a youngman loved by all. He spent all his life outside Oporoza, hence the reason he could not swim out because he didn’t learn the art of swimming just like majority of us in Oporoza.”

Igelemo however, said that he was ripped apart on noting that the boat drowned in the presence of navy whose occupation was not only to combat piracy on the sea but also to safe life, and they showed above the life attitude.

According to Igelemo, “I can’t believe that the navy at Kandagha watched our son drown without coming to his rescue. Perhaps, the two persons rescued by the sailor would have died if the sailor was not good in swimming.

“We condemn the indifferent attitude shown by the navy, watching a human drown without coming to his rescue.

“We are hereby calling on the Federal Government and other authorities to sanction the naval officers on duty when the incident happened.

“We are also calling on the authorities to come to the aid of the immediate family of Michael Brakemi Uyabor he left behind been their bread winner. May his gentle soul find rest.”

When our reporter approached the naval base for comment, no officer accepted commenting on the incident.

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