—We rescued 7, recovers 2 dead bodie

More reports have emerged conerning the boat mishap that claimed the life of a famed Nollywood star, John Paul Odonwodo, aka, Junior Pope.

One of the survivors of the tragicboat mishap, Actor T.C Okafor has recounted how he escaped death by the whiskers, saying “pouring Fanta and money into the Anam River saved his life.”

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In a viral video yesterday, the actor revealed that the accident was due to the inexperience of the person steering the boat.

According to him, while they were all on board, only a few passengers wore life jackets.

During the journey, Okafor said he poured Fanta into the river and tossed naira notes and some crumbs from his snack into the river to appease the gods of the river.

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He also dashed some money to children who were playing around the river before they commenced the journey.

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Okafor also recalled how Jnr Pope queried his actions, and he explained to him that he was rendering obeisance to the river gods, beseeching for safe passage, hence his unconventional rituals.

He narrated: “Before I entered the boat, I did the ritual. The first thing Junior Pope asked me was, ‘What am I doing?’ And I said I was observing the water people. I can’t pass without sharing something. I have given them Fanta, so I don’t want anything bad to happen to me. Jnr. Pope agreed.

“While we were going, the guy steering the boat was wearing an earpiece, and Junior Pope was doing a video. I saw a small canoe with fishermen in front and due to his lack of experience, the guy steering the boat drove right into the last point of the canoe and we somersaulted.”

Okafor said that while the boat capsized, he held onto the anchor with a female colleague until another boat came to their rescue.

Unfortunately, the embattled actor said the producer agreed to pay him only N100,000 to star in the movie. And while they were getting ready to embark on the journey, Jnr Pope said he was uncomfortable but couldn’t help it.

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The boat, which was conveying them back to Asaba, was said to have collided with fishermen’s boat, which recorded no casualties.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Nollywood stars and sympathisers yesterday thronged the waterside of River Niger Cable Point, Asaba, Delta State in search of the bodies of the three missing people who were involved in the mishap.

AGN suspends producer of ill-fated film, Adanma Luke

Sequel to the development, the leadership of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, yesterday announced the suspension of the producer of the ill-fated film, Adanma Luke as well as banning shooting of films in riverine areas.

The film titled, “Another Side of Life” was also suspended indefinitely by the Guild’s leadership.
Junior Pope didn’t survive the accident.

The search for the three other missing persons including Abigail Fredrick (Vice Chairman of Costumer Designers Guild of Nigeria) and Akwa-Ibom State-born make-up artist, Precious Oforum (Sound engineer) and Joseph Anointing (Gaffer), continued yesterday, as their colleagues in Nollywood and sympathisers thronged the riverside in their numbers.

In a statement yesterday, the President of AGN, Emeka Rollas announced the indefinite suspension of the producer of the ill-fated movie, Adanma Luke over the death of Jnr Pope.

The AGN President also said the Guild has indefinitely suspended films involving riverine areas and boat riding.

He said movie shootings would not occur yesterday in any location nationwide to mourn the victims of the mishap.

The statement read in part: “Following the tragic incident of boat mishap that claimed the life of Mr John Paul Odonwodo, aka Junior Pope and four other crew members at the waterside of River Niger Cable point, Asaba on April 10, 2024 on a movie set titled ‘The other side of Life’ produced by Adanma Luke, the leadership of the Guild has taken the following decisions: All films that involve riverine areas and boat riding are at this moment suspended indefinitely; no shooting on all locations nationwide on Thursday, April 11, 2024.

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“The film titled ‘Another Side of Life’ is suspended indefinitely; No actor is allowed to work with Adamma Luke as a producer till further notice and while we keep searching for the bodies of the remaining persons, may their souls rest in peace.”

NIWA rescues 7, recovers 2 corpses

However, the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, has given a clearer picture of the number of people, casualties and survivors in the boat mishap.

NIWA Area Manager, Mr Suleiman Nicholas, told Vanguard that contrary to the claim that the incident happened in Anam, Anambra West Local Government Area, of the state, the incident happened at the Akpaka Area, a suburb of Onitsha and Nsugbe, Anambra East Local Government Area, when the victims were coming back from Anam, where they went to shoot a movie.

Nicholas further disclosed that there were 12 people in the ill-fated boat and seven of the victims were rescued, two were recovered dead, while three are still missing, and out of the three missing, two are females, while one is male.

The NIWA Area Manager stated that his men are still at the scene of the incident in Akpaka area of Onitsha and Nsugbe, conducting rescue and recovery activities with the men of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and Marine Police.

Further questioned on the cause of the incident, Nicholas said: “Whatever you will get now as the cause of the incident may not be accurate, we are waiting for the report from my men who are at the scene of the incident. My men are on the water now to recover the remaining three missing victims.”

Police commence investigation into boat mishap

Also yesterday, the Anambra State Police command said preliminary enquiry has given insight into the cause of the boat mishap.

The cause has, however, not been made public, but the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Tochukwu Ikenga said the Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Adeoye, has ordered exhaustive investigation with a view to determining criminal liability of any person, if any, in the mishap.

Ikenga, in a statement said: “On being notified of the capsize, Anambra Command Marine Police deployed for rescue operations and successfully rescued six actors and one actress from the water.
“Two others who were unconscious were also pulled out with the aid of fishermen and conveyed to the Delta State Command Marine Police Jetty where other members of the crew who travelled in the first boat were waiting.

“They were handed over to the President of the Actors Guild for conveyance to the hospital, while the rescue team went back in search of three others who are still missing as at the time of this release.”
He said although the accident happened within the jurisdiction of Anambra State Command, issues relating to release of bodies of the accident victims for a decent burial are to be handled by the Delta State Police command.

The CP commiserated with the families, friends and fans of the actors who lost their lives as a result of the boat mishap and prayed God to grant their souls a sweet repose.