By Ushang Ewa
The Commander of the Operation Delta Safe (ODS) Joint Task Force (JTF), Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi and other military commanders escaped drowning Tuesday, at the Ikang jetty in what is present day Bakassi local government area of southern Cross River State.
Ikang, a community formerly in Akpabuyo local government area now forms part of Bakassi after the mapping of a new area for the peninsula which was ceded to Cameroon by an International Court of Justice ruling.
And, the military officers cheated death when the jetty, recently renovated by the Niger Deta Development Commissione collapsed under them with some sustaining minor injuries and given treatment, a statement signed by the coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Center (JMCC), Major Ibrahim Abdullahi read.
The incident which occurred at about 10:00AM had the Commander of the Nigerian Naval Ship Victory, Commodore Sali Jubrin, ODS Sector Commanders including Sector 4 (Cross River) amongst others as victims the JMCC said.
They were said to be on tour of the area as part of Operation Safety Check (3), designed to assess troops deployment and activities at various locations across the Niger Delta region the JMCC said.
“The Commander OPDS, Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, Commander Nigerian Naval Ship (NNS) Victory, Operation Delta Safe Component Commanders, Commander Sector 4 along with other Senior Officers and soldiers, all fell into Ikang River as a result of the complete collapse of the Jetty at Ikang at about 10:00am.
“However, as a result of the survival capability of the Officers and Men, all personnel, weapons and other equipment were recovered with slight injuries to some personnel which have been treated.
“The team has retired back to Calabar to re-strategise and go ahead with the planned patrol and inspection,” the statement read.
CrossRiverWatch’s Jonathan Ugbal reports that when Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade visited the area which is less than a 10 minute sail to Archibong town in the Bakassi peninsula, he had pointed put to Mr. Ayade’s aides that the jetty will soon collapse due to erosion which had informed his security aides decision to hurry their principal off the jetty after briefing Government House correspondents of plans to build homes for Cross Riverians fleeing the Cameroon gendarmes.
The act was condemned by many including convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Pa Edwin Clark wh tasked the federal government on the protection of returnees and internally displaced persons.
But, the federal government later cleared the Cameroonian authorities of any wrongdoing and denied 100 people had been killed by the gendarmes.
The federal government had said the victims drowned.
No official statement from the Cameroonian authorities was reported in the local media.
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