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Junior Pope’s Death: Nigerian Investigation Bureau says Boat Driver was not Certified

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) released a preliminary report on the boat accident that killed Junior Pope and four others, citing the driver's distraction as a cause of the mishap.

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has released its preliminary report on the boat mishap that claimed the lives of actor Junior Pope and four others in the Anam River.

The agency’s report, released on Friday, May 24 and presented by Director Cpt. Alex Baden revealed that he was not formally informed about the accident, but instead discovered it through social media.

According to the NSIB, investigators from the Enugu Regional Office were promptly sent to the accident site on April 12, 2024, to begin their investigation.

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The investigation found that the boat’s driver was not certified.

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According to Mr. Baden, a solo occupant’s rowdiness on a wooden fishing canoe distracted the driver, who was travelling at high speed.

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“There was only one person on the wooden fishing canoe. This rowdiness in the boat distracted the driver and he was not looking out as required. The boat was on high speed and the crossing canoe was moving at a much slower speed,” Mr. Baden said.

He further noted that the solo occupant of the canoe escaped by jumping into the river just before the speeding boat collided.

“The only occupant of the canoe, on sighting the fast approaching boat jumped into the river and escaped; The boat collided with the canoe at a high speed which resulted in the boat capsizing and all persons onboard were flung into Anam River,” he said.

The NSIB added that the life jacket was not provided by the operator of the boat.

“Only one passenger on the outboard engine fibre boat was wearing a life jacket. The only passenger wearing a life jacket came with it and was not provided by the operator. The passenger wearing the life jacket was one of the survivors. The boat was fitted with an outboard engine. There was no manifest of passengers and persons onboard the boat. The rescue operation was not timely and there were no trained divers around to assist in the operation,” he said.

The Bureau recommended that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) implement a mandatory registration system for all commercial boats operating on national inland waterways, including those transporting goods and passengers.

It added that authority must ensure adequate safety measures are implemented and enforced in our inland waterways.

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