ByÂ Peter Duru
MAKURDI â€” A former SenatorÂ who represented Benue North-West in the National Assembly, Senator Fred Orti and a People’s Democratic Party PDP bigwig in Benue State, Chief Simon Joseph Akure, weekend, escaped death by the whiskers when a boat they were traveling with capsized in the middle of River Katsina-Ala, in Benue State.
Senator Orti and his friend were said to be on their way toÂ Anyii in Logo Local Government Area of the state to attend Governor Gabriel Suswamâ€™s 45th birthday anniversary.
Vanguard gathered that the twosome had boarded a locally made canoe at the Buruku axis of River Katsina-Ala, and were being ferried along with two Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) to the Logo area when midway into the journey the canoe caved in and ran aground.
An eye witness further disclosed that the incident generated yells and out cry from passengers who were on both sides of the river bank, prompting the intervention of the local ferry operators.
The victims were said to have been rescued from drowning when everyone had lost hope of their survival.
However, the Toyota and Lexus SUVs sank and local divers made efforts to get the cars from the river.
Contacted, one of the canoe operators who gave his name as Tersoo Anja attributed the accident to the greed of the owner of the canoe, stressing that he gambled with the lives of the Senator and his friend â€œall because he wanted to make brisk money.â€
According to him, â€œwe do not carry two SUVs across the river at a time in one canoe because of the weight of the cars but we were surprised when our brother opted to carry the two politicians with their cars in his canoe at the same time.
â€œWhen we questioned his decision, he told us that the Senator and his friend did not complain so he took the risk. But we thank God that nothing happened to the passengers,â€ Tersoo said.
Vanguard also gathered that both Sen. Orti and Chief Akure have made contacts with construction firms to move to the scene of the accident to fish out the sunk vehicles as efforts by local divers did not yield the desired result.