A 17-year-old SS3 pupil, Olileanya Obidiaso, has reportedly drowned in Oko in the Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State as a result of the ravaging flood in some parts of the state.
The incident was said to have occurred on Friday when the deceased and other residents were returning from the day’s outing in a canoe.
An eyewitness, who is a farmer from the Omeligboma community, said the incident occurred when some group of persons took advantage of the flooded area to collect money from canoe operators.
The source said the victim drowned when the canoe conveying him capsized following alleged hot pursuit by youths suspected to be illegal tax collectors.
The source stated, “We have searched everywhere since Friday night and we haven’t seen the body. We decided to wait for the body to float. So, this Sunday morning, the dead body floated on the river and we called the police to take it away.
“It unfortunate that a young boy, who is preparing to write his West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination next year just died like that because people wanted to collect money. We are suffering and going through pain as a result of this flood and some persons are using it to collect money.
“You know that the areas have been flooded; we are only using canoes to move around. Some people are extorting the canoe operators. So, it was in that process that this young boy drowned, while trying to escape from them.
“The boy got drowned when the boat capsized because they were being chased by youths, who usually intercept and extort money from canoe operators, who ferry people from the Asaba end of the River Niger Bridge to the communities in Oko.”
The source condemned the youth in the area for taking advantage of the flood to bring economic pains on the people, who were eking out a living by deploying their canoes to ferry residents to and from their places of work.
He warned that if not checked, the trend could escalate and cause more problems.
The Police Public Relations Officer in state, Onome Onovwakpoyeya, who confirmed the death of the teenager a telephone interview with newsmen, said the information she got was that somebody drowned in the Oko area.
Onovwakpoyeya said, “The bereaved father of the victim reported at the ‘B’ Division that his son fell into the water while being pursued by illegal tax collectors. However, I don’t know about that.”