Junior Pope: NBIS begins Anambra boat accident probe

The Federal Government through the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NBIS) has commenced a comprehensive investigation into the tragic boat accident that occurred on the Anam River in Anambra State on Wednesday.

In a statement on Sunday, the Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection of NSIB, Bimbo Oladeji, said the bureau would unravel the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate development.

The bureau said the incident resulted in the loss of five lives, including renowned Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, popularly called Junior Pope; Abigail Frederick; Precious Oforum; and Joseph Anointing.

The speed boat, reportedly carrying twelve film crew members and a boat operator, tragically collided with a canoe.

The NSIB’s investigation aims to uncover the circumstances leading to the collision, identify any factors that contributed to the accident, and recommend measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The Director General, NSIB, Captain Alex Badeh, said an investigation team had been dispatched in the accident site, adding that an inquiry had also started.

He stated, “The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to, examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation.”

According to the DG, NSIB will collaborate with relevant authorities, including the Marine Police section of the Anambra State Police Command, maritime authorities, and industry experts, during the investigation.

The bureau is expected to release its findings in a preliminary report, followed by a final report upon the investigation’s conclusion.

The reports aim to enhance safety by providing recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.

“The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident. We share in your grief and are fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Badeh said.

On Friday, the Anambra State Police Command issued a statement indicating it had recovered the bodies of three victims of a boat accident.

“The two bodies were recovered on Thursday, April 11, 2024, while the last was washed in by the tide this morning. All the bodies have been deposited in the hospital mortuary in Asaba, while the President of the Guild of Actors and Actresses has been notified of the recovery.

“The CP promised an expedited investigation into the sad accident that claimed the lives of five actors. He also commended the command’s marine unit and its commander for their dedication to duty.”

The accident also prompted the Actors Guild of Nigeria to bar actors under its franchise from shooting movies in riverine areas and participating in boat rides.

Part of its statement read, “Following the tragic incident of a boat mishap that claimed the lives of Junior Pope and three other crew members at the waterside of River Niger Cable Point Asaba on April 10, all films that involve riverine areas and boat riding are hereby suspended indefinitely.

“There should be no shooting at all locations nationwide on Thursday, April 11, 2024.”

Meanwhile, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State has expressed grief and condoled the families of the victims of the Nollywood boat tragedy, saying their deaths were excruciating and unfortunate.

Oborevweri said that the state government agonised over the unfortunate and untimely passing of Junior Pope and others in the boat tragedy.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Festus Ahon, in Asaba, on Sunday, the governor urged the Nollywood fans and stakeholders to accept the passing of the actors as an unfortunate incident.

He said, “On behalf of my family, the government and the people of Delta State, I commiserate with the Nollywood industry and families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate boat mishap.

“Perhaps, the deaths could have been avoided if the necessary safety measures were adhered to.

“May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in eternal peace.”


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