The Drowning Incidents In Nigeria

Nmesoma Okwudili


April 19, 2024

Lately, Nigeria has been witnessing a surge in reports concerning drowning incidents. Over the past few months, there have been more than five tragic cases where individuals lost their lives due to drowning. This alarming trend has sparked various discussions and debates within the community.

Some people, with a strong spiritual and mythological foundation in Nigeria, believe that these sad events result from the anger of water spirits. This viewpoint suggests that human activity or carelessness angers the spirits residing in the waterways, leading to terrible disasters.


On the other hand, some blame the victims directly, accusing them of being irresponsible and neglecting to prioritize safety precautions before going on trips near water. This viewpoint emphasizes how crucial it is to follow safety procedures, such as donning life jackets and exercising caution when near bodies of water.

As Pope headed to the film set, he took a moment to record a video aboard the boat, earnestly urging the driver to proceed with caution. In the heartfelt footage, the actor revealed his personal stakes, emphasizing that he was his parents’ only child and a father to three young children whom he dearly wished to nurture himself. Despite acknowledging the inherent risks of his profession, Pope implored his fans to understand the gravity of the situation.

His words tragically resonated when, upon his return from the set, the very scenario he feared materialized, marking his final journey. In a devastating turn of events, Pope, along with three fellow crew members, succumbed to the merciless capsizing of the boat.

First and foremost, learning how to swim is a fundamental life skill that can save lives. Swimming classes provide individuals with essential water survival techniques, such as floating, treading water, and proper stroke techniques. By acquiring these skills, individuals gain confidence and competence in navigating water bodies, reducing the risk of drowning in emergency situations.

Initial reports of Pope’s demise sent shockwaves through his fanbase, but a glimmer of hope emerged with rumors suggesting he had regained consciousness.

Emeka Rollas, the president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, took to Instagram to share a glimmer of hope amidst the tragedy, proclaiming, “What God cannot do does not exist. Junior Pope is alive. He is receiving treatment in the hospital.” However, amidst the confusion and swirling rumors, it became apparent that the situation was far more dire than initially believed.

Speculation ran rampant online, fueled by reports of a mortuary attendant allegedly transporting the actor to the morgue while still alive. Furthermore, another actor present at the scene, Stanley, took to video to suggest that Pope was being taken to the waterside for ritualistic practices aimed at reviving him.

Yet, as hours passed, the grim truth emerged. Rollas clarified that his earlier declaration of Pope’s survival was fueled by sheer excitement upon detecting faint signs of life, specifically tingling in Pope’s fingers. The eventual confirmation of Pope’s passing cast a somber shadow over the entire industry.

Before engaging in any water activity, people should consider the risks involved and be aware of their surroundings. Safety can be greatly impacted by variables like the weather, water depth, currents, and underwater objects. Through comprehensive risk assessments and suitable safety measures, people can reduce potential hazards and responsibly enjoy water-related activities.

In the wake of this tragedy, profound questions surfaced, chief among them being why the actors and crew members ventured across the expansive river without the crucial safety measure of life jackets. This glaring oversight underscores the need for heightened safety protocols in the entertainment industry to prevent such heartbreaking losses in the future.

Questions arose regarding the handling of the situation following the actor’s immersion in water. Many queried why immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) wasn’t administered upon his retrieval from the water, and why he was initially transported to the morgue and a traditional healer rather than a hospital.

Adding complexity to the narrative, cultural beliefs were invoked, suggesting that silence should have prevailed during travel on the water, particularly on market days. Allegations surfaced that Okafor, one of the individuals involved, had violated this custom by ringing a bell while aboard the boat, an action deemed taboo in the local context.

Providing further insight into the sequence of events leading to the tragic accident, Okafor recounted, “I asked them to put their phones in their pockets, but after a while, Pope started making a video.” Okafor’s vigilance alerted him to a small canoe ahead, which he attempted to draw the captain’s attention to. Unfortunately, due to the captain’s distraction—likely caused by wearing earphones and potentially listening to music—he failed to heed the warning until it was too late. Tragically, their boat collided with the canoe’s tail end, resulting in capsizing and the subsequent loss of lives.

He recounted his survival, attributing it to his quick thinking in clutching onto the boat’s rope as it overturned. Additionally, he acknowledged the swift action of bystanders who rushed to their aid with their own boats, undoubtedly preventing further loss of life.

Amidst the grief shared by colleagues and fans mourning the departed, voices within the acting community rose in condemnation of the prevalent substandard conditions on many movie sets.

In response to the somber news, esteemed actress Ini Edo penned her thoughts, expressing her sorrow and likely her perspective on the tragedy.

 “Junior Pope did not have to sacrifice his life for Nollywood to realise the need for a long and much needed regulatory structure that would safeguard an entire production. The system has to undergo a total overhaul with practical rules and regulations that cater to everyone in cases of emergencies, Rest on brother, this one cuts really deep”

In a gesture of mourning for the departed, the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) solemnly decreed that all filming activities scheduled for Thursday, April 11th, be suspended. This decision coincided with the imposition of a ban on Adanma Luke, the producer of the ill-fated movie set where the tragic boat accident occurred.

In a formal statement issued by the AGN, the guild expressed profound grief over the untimely demise of Mr. John Paul Odonwodo, known as Junior Pope, and four other crew members during the filming of “The Other Side of Life” along the River Niger in Asaba. The guild outlined decisive measures in response to the tragedy:

Firstly, all film productions involving riverine locations and boat scenes are halted indefinitely as a precautionary measure.

Secondly, the film titled “Another Side of Life” is suspended indefinitely in light of the recent events. Furthermore, the AGN declared a moratorium on actors collaborating with Adamma Luke as a producer until further notice.

This resolute action demonstrates the seriousness with which the AGN addresses safety concerns within the industry and emphasizes the need for heightened vigilance and adherence to safety protocols to prevent similar tragedies in the future.


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