A Junior Secondary School three pupil of Baptist Model School, Ilorin, Kwara State, Ogbodo Benjamin, has drowned in a river at Ajegunle/Egbejila community of Ilorin West Local Government Area.The victim was said to be walking on a makeshift bridge across the river when he slipped and fell into the river.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Kwara State Command, Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday.
He said, “Yes, it is true; the boy drowned in the river.”
PUNCH Metro gathered that the victim got drowned after he had helped some other pupils to cross the bridge on their way to school.
Though some fishermen, who responded to his distress call while he was sinking in the water made efforts to rescue him, he, however, drowned before help could get to him.
It was learnt that the corpse of the victim had yet to be recovered.
A witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said officials of the Kwara State Fire Service could not also rescue the victim.
He said, “The people of the area had used planks to make a bridge across the river. The planks had weakened and people had been afraid to cross the bridge.
“After the boy had assisted his colleagues, he attempted to cross the river, but the planks caved in. He slipped into the river and drowned. He drowned at about 7.30am. People nearby tried to rescue him, but all their efforts were futile. The fishermen also did their best, but they could not rescue him.”
The death of the schoolboy was said to have angered the residents of the area who stormed the Kwara State House of Assembly complex to protest against the non-completion of the bridge.
They alleged that many lives had been lost due to the delay in completing the bridge.
The spokesperson for the community, Hajia Aminat Lawal, said the erosion caused by the non-completion of Asa Dam-Egbejila Airport Road had resulted in loss of many lives.
She called on the state government to take urgent steps towards ensuring early completion of the road.
The Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad, said the state government was set to complete the road to forestall unnecessary loss of lives and property, as well as facilitate vehicular movement on the route.
Ahmad, who was represented by the Clerk of the House, Mr. Simon Okedare, said the state government told the protesters that it was committed to completing all ongoing road projects in the state.
He added that contractors handling ongoing road projects had been mobilised to the sites by the state government.