Boat Driver Who Carried Late Junior Pope, Other Actors Not Certified – NSIB

Junior Pope Alive

The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has released a preliminary report on a tragic boat accident that claimed the lives of five individuals, including popular Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, known professionally as Junior Pope.

The accident, which occurred in the Anam River, Anambra State, on April 10, 2024, involved a boat carrying 12 actors and crew members.

During a press briefing on Friday, the NSIB presented findings from this incident alongside other aviation and marine reports.

The Director General of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh Jn, revealed that the boat driver involved in the fatal incident was not certified, raising significant concerns about the safety measures adhered to when operating the vessel.

The boat itself was also not registered with the National Inland Waterways Authority, further compounding the irregularities surrounding the event.

The report detailed that the speedboat capsized, throwing all occupants into the river.

While seven individuals were rescued alive, five were fatally injured, including Nollywood talents such as Ms Abigail Frederick, Mr Precious Oforum, and Mr Joseph Anointing.

The NSIB was not immediately informed of the incident but became aware through social media, prompting an investigation by their Enugu Regional office.

In response to these findings, the NSIB has dispatched investigators to the site and is expected to provide a detailed analysis in their final report.

The director said, “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.

“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.”

The preliminary report stated that while five passengers on the boat were fatally injured, the remaining seven passengers and the driver survived the crash.

He said, “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.”

In its safety recommendations, the bureau urged the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Ensure that all boats involved in commercial activities (goods and passengers) within the national inland waterways are registered, adding the authority must ensure adequate safety measures are implemented and enforced in our inland waterways.