Three children of a 40-year-old man, Najeem Oseni, have yet to be found following a canoe tragedy that occurred at Imude in Otto-Awori Local Council Development Area of Lagos State on Sunday.
The children – Suleiman, Wasiu (males) and Risikat (female) – were among the 10 passengers that boarded the canoe from Idoluwo on their way to Ikotun in the LCDA.
Their father, Oseni, evoked sympathy as he bemoaned the fate that befell him when officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority and naval men attached to it continued their recovery operations.
The grief-stricken father said, “My children were coming from Idoluwo where they went to celebrate Eid-el- Kabir with my family.
“Let someone tell me I am dreaming. How can I lose three children at a time? My children are better dead than missing.”
Oseni said amid sorrow that his children were going back to Imude where they lived.
Although he insisted that he would not leave the shore until his children were found, sympathisers persuaded him to leave the scene.
The residents of the community blamed the accident on the recklessness of operators of a speed boat sailing through the waterways.
The General Manager of LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said five bodies had been recovered on Sunday evening.
It was learnt that the body of a four-year-old boy was also recovered on Monday.
PUNCH Metro learnt that all the passengers in the canoe died when waves generated by a passing speedboat swayed the canoe making it to capsize.
The victims apparently did not wear life jackets.
Our correspondent learnt that the passengers boarded the canoe at Idoluwo-Ile and were heading for Ikotun.
Some eyewitnesses said the victims seemed to have gone for the Eid-el-Kabir celebration and were heading back to their base when the tragedy occurred.
Oke-Osanyintolu, whose men were on hand for the recovery operation on Sunday, said the fact that the passengers did not use life jackets made their survival impossible.
“LASEMA has warned many times in the past that people using canoes should make use of life jackets for their own safety. Most of the passengers of the boats were teenagers,” he said.
LASEMA and naval officials and other emergency first responders have been at the scene since Sunday evening for the recovery efforts.
On Monday, LASEMA and naval officials also resumed recovery efforts at Imude. Hours of search resulted in the recovery of the body of a four-year-old boy.
It was learnt that the canoe was paddled by a 10-year-old boy whose identity has not been determined.