A pre-birthday celebration meant to be a memorable occasion for two undergraduates of the Benue State University (BSU) – Adakole Christopher and Emmanuella Msurshima Mson, turned tragic last weekend as the duo drowned in River Benue.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that both students of the Faculty of Science, but in different departments, had set out on Friday, April 12, 2019, which was the eve of Christopher’s birthday, to explore nature at the riverside beside their school in company of three other friends, as part of activities preceding the birthday.
The deceased – a 100 level male student of Computer Science and a 100 level female medical student and their friends had also gone to the river bank, which often served as a sort of beach for fun lovers within the university community, with an MP3 speaker as well as other musical instruments.
But, that adventure didn’t end well as Christopher and Mson drowned while swimming after they had played football and enjoyed their music with friends.
A final year Geography student of the institution, Lubem Terkula, told our correspondent that though he was not a friend of the deceased students, he however participated actively in the recovery of their bodies after their disappearance was reported to the Students’ Union.
“The five of them were quite young; between the ages of 18 and 20. The girl (Emmanuella), as I was told, first went into the river and discovered the water level was not deep so she dragged Adakole into the water. Soon, their friends who were taking photos of them as they played in the water could no longer see them.
“Their friends immediately reported the matter to the school management who in turn contacted the Marine Police that same evening but it was the following day that the rescue operation properly commenced,” he said.
Terkula added that some members of the students union like himself swung into action when it appeared that the authorities saddled with the responsibilities were slow in responding to the emergency.
He said with the huge effort also made by Christopher’s family, the corpse of the male student was recovered on Saturday afternoon and interred at the river bank with the consent of the bereaved family in line with Idoma tradition.
“Christopher’s family put in a lot of effort; we only supported them to recover and bury the body. The Marine Police didn’t do much,” Terkula alleged.
He further explained that after the burial of Christopher, he and his colleagues proceeded with the search for Mson’s body by hiring a boat which took them through the coastline communities between Benue and Nasarawa states.
“We contacted the local divers and I volunteered to go with them and we searched everywhere as we combed the rivers up to Nasarawa State while asking questions along the way. Some people said they saw a body and others said they didn’t. But, finally, at about 2:30pm on Sunday, we found the girl’s body, floating near Olam’s farm in Nasarawa State. We brought the corpse back home and deposited it at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH),” he added.
Terkula also played a major role in leading his colleagues to the home town of 18-year-old Mson, who was buried at Tse-Bashi Mbaajime in Mbayongo of Vandeikya LGA area of the state on Wednesday, April 17.
A relative of the deceased female undergraduate, who declined her name on print, said the late Mson was the only child of her aged mother, adding that she (deceased) was a very brilliant girl.
“Mson is brilliant and beautiful. It’s such a sad experience for her mother who may not be able to have another child again. The woman has spent a fortune on the deceased as her only child since the death of Mson’s father.
“Everyone in the family is devastated by the girl’s death. In fact, the mother who resides in Gboko was lured to Abuja by family members soon after the news of her daughter’s death broke. That was where she was told and right now the woman’s grief is so heavy that she can hardly speak,” the relative narrated.
Our correspondent gathered that the remains of Mson were finally interred in her village at Vandekiya LGA on Wednesday, while Christopher, a guitarist, was buried on his birthday.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Benue Command, Catherine Anene, who earlier confirmed the incident, however noted that the Marine Police were actively involved in the search and rescue operation.
Anene said that rescue operation to save the lives of the students was launched immediately the matter was reported to the police just as she warned students of BSU to desist from playing or going to the river at all, especially as the water level had risen with the onset of the rainy season.