A bride-to-be and five children of a traditional ruler were among 29 passengers who lost their lives in the boat mishap which occurred at Gidan Magana village, Ginga settlement in Shagari local government area of Sokoto state.
It was gathered that the passengers were crossing the river to a nearby bush to fetch fire wood which they sell to make a living.
There were 35 persons on the boat when it capsized around 8:am on Wednesday, April 13. Six of the passengers were, however, rescued.
The Village head of Gidan Magana, Malam Muhammadu Auwal, who lost five of his children in the mishap, told Daily Trust that 23 females and six males were among the deceased.
He noted that, the victims were crossing the river to fetch firewood because of its scarcity in their community.
“You know the kind of situation we are. There is a serious shortage of firewood which we use to make our meals. The children used to go to the nearby bush across the river to fetch fire wood for their parents while some of them sell it to get money.”
He stated that the incident happened shortly after the boat took off.
“The sailor lost its control shortly after take off because of heavy waves. And it capsized,” he said.
He noted that the tragedy occurred when many of the elderly people in the village were resting at homes after the dawn prayer.
“I was sleeping when some youth came to my house and informed me about the incident. I mobilized the people of my community, including our local divers, but before we reached there many of the children had died.
“I lost five of my children and two younger sisters of my wives. I also lost my niece whose wedding was fixed for one week after Sallah. This is the great tragedy that has ever happened in our community. We pray Allah to grant their souls eternal rest and give us the fortitude to bear their lost,” he said.
Aliyu Muhammad, who lost his 12-year old daughter, Rufaida in the accident, said his child was healthy before she left for the bush.
“I was going to the farm when my wife told me that my daughter is going to fetch firewood for us. When I was coming back, I heard people shouting and screaming for help that a boat capsized in our river.
“When I reached home, my younger children told me that Rufaida was among those onboard the canoe, so I rushed to the river side only for me to meet her lifeless body lying by the river bank,” he said in a emotion-ladden voice.
The chairman of Shagari local government area, Aliyu Abubakar Dantani, said he heard about the incident from the counsellor representing Dande Mahe and he quickly called the Divisional Police Officer and they came to the village together.
“We counted 28 bodies at the scene of the incident and they are all from the same village,” he said.
Meanwhile, the deceased were given a mass burial in accordance to the Islamic rites around 4pm on Wednesday.