Widespread fears have enveloped Idua community in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State following the death at the weekend of two students of Alex Secondary School.
The deceased, Aniekan Harry and Uche Okoli, said to be Senior Secondary School (SSS) two students of the private school, were drowned at Qua Iboe River, after playing football at the river beach.
Their lifeless bodies were recovered at the weekend by divers floating on the river after being drowned for three days, Effiong Ufot, a local fisherman told reporters in Eket, on Sunday.
It was gathered that the students left their school for the Qua Iboe river beach, “to have fun” after a friendly football match scheduled to hold with a rival school was abruptly cancelled, forcing them to look elsewhere to ventilate their energy.
According Owen Oscar, one of the students, “after the cancellation of the football match with another school, we had to move to another location at the Qua Iboe River beach, to dissipate our energy.”
He disclosed that “eight of us left the school after the friendly game was cancelled to still play the game at the beach among ourselves but two of us left after to go and swim”.
“Some of us were not in school that day to write the exams, and because of that, I had to go home and change my uniform before going to inform one of us, Elijah, about the cancellation of the friendly match.
“After that, eight of us decided to go to the Qua Iboe River beach to play football,” he explained.
Owen said they were ready to retire back after the game, when two of the eight said they must soak themselves in the river, adding that all entreaties to make them wait for others “so we can all swim together” were unsuccessful.
“They [the victims] shunned all advice and went to the river to swim and ended up penetrating into the deeper part of the river and got swallowed by the water,” he added.
Seeking for help, Owen and other students, it was gathered, ran to the Marine Police post to raise the alarm, adding that help could not reach the victims because of late intervention by the Marine Police.
“The Marine policemen, when they could not rescue the victims, only advised us to go and report the matter to the parents,” adding that efforts to locate the victims’ remains were hampered by lack of facilities.
Confirming the incident, the principal of the school, Mr. Asuquo Ekong, denied knowledge of any football match against a rival school that was cancelled, which forced the students to stray out for beach football.
“I am not aware of such development that there was any football match with another school. If there was something like that, management of the school would have been notified, but we were not informed”, Ekong explained.
He advised parents to be in the vanguard of securing their children and wards through effective surveillance, proper advice, education and enlightenment.
However, a family member, who identified herself as Mercydonia Harry, dismissed the position that the victims died of drowning, alleging that they were murdered.
She disclosed that they dead students were surreptitiously taken to the beach for forced initiation into cultism, adding that their resistance compelled their colleagues to administer corporate punishment of death on them for their refusal.
But the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Elkana Bala, who confirmed the incident, dismissed such allegation, maintaining that the victims died of accident.
He advised parents to always be closer to their children to ascertain the company they keep as well as their daily programmes of activities.