Spectators, relations and colleagues wept uncontrollably as the bodies of two male students from Alex Commercial Secondary School, Idua in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom reportedly drowned in Qua Iboe River were dispayed at the river bank.
The victims identified as Aniekan Harry from Uruan and Uche Okoli from Eastern Obolo local government areas respectively, were in Senior Secondary School (SSS) 11 and were among eight students that allegedly sneaked out from the school compound to the beach situated closed to the residence of Senator Helen Esuene.
One of the students, who was at the beach, Master Owen Oscar, said they decided to go to the Qua River beach to play following a postponed football match between their school and rival school.
“We all agreed to go to Qua Iboe River close to Hospital Road, Eket to play casual football. When we finished playing, the victims said they were tired and wanted to swim at the Atlantic Ocean,” Oscar said.
He said the decision for the victims to swim in the Atlantic Ocean was their own as they were advised against it because of the depth of the ocean and how dangerous the ocean is due to the number of persons that drowned in it.
The eyewitness said while six others were watching one of the victims, Okoli jumped inside the ocean while Harry legs slipped in the water.
According to him, “when the victims could not be seen again the marine policemen and other divers in the area were contacted to help search for them; but nothing was achieved only for their dead bodies to float on the water after three days precisely on Saturday.”
Mr. Asuquo Ekong, the Principal of the School, confirmed that two students were drowned in Qua River, stressing that the victims did not inform the school management of their movement that fateful day.
Ekong said a female teacher called him in the night of the incident to relate the sad news, stressing that the school authority was not aware of any football match between his school and rival one.
“The school management was not aware of their plan to play football with any rival school; they left the school without the knowledge of the school management,” he said indicating that on the day of the incident, he personally supervised the examinations in the school.
Mrs Mercydonia Harry, a relation of one of the victims, alleged that the six students who survived must have gone to the beach to initiate the victims into secret cult; saying the incident was worrisome and pathetic.
Officials of the Eket Divisional Police were among those who witnessed the recovered the corpse of the victims for burial three days after.
DSP Bala Elkana, the Akwa Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), confirmed the incident, saying reports had it that the students went to swim in the river, saying “Police are aware of the incident and the corpses have been recovered.”
Elkana advised parents and their wards to be more cautious and should monitor the movement of their children and awards saying swimming in the river was not a crime but you must be a swimmer to play around the river.
“They have their right to go to where they want to go, but I advised people to be careful when they go to swim and think about their safety first. The incident has nothing to do with cultism, but they just went to the river to bathe,” he stated.