Calabar tragedy: Okowa commiserates with Cross River

Ifeanyi Okowa
Gov. Delta State

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has commiserated with the government and people of Cross River State over Thursday’s incident in which some football fans lost their lives in Calabar, the state capital.

The football fans were electrocuted while watching the UEFA Europa League quarter-final match between Manchester United and Anderlecht when a high tension electric pole fell on the zinc roof of the viewing centre.

The incident happened at the Nyangasang axis of Calabar Municipality at about 10pm on Thursday.

Okowa, who expressed sadness over the incident, urged viewing centre operators to ensure safety in football viewing centres across the country to check future occurrence.

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, on Saturday, also condoled with the families of the victims and football lovers across the world.

The statement read in part, “On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with the Cross River State government on the unfortunate and avoidable loss of football fans in Calabar on Thursday.

“As a government, our primary duty is to ensure that our citizens are safe and protected, whether during leisure hour or work period. I commend the government of Cross River State for their prompt attention to the sad incident. I also urge governments at all levels to ensure that what is necessary to make our people secure in both public and private spaces is given the deserved priority at all times.”

The governor also prayed for the souls of the dead and quick recovery for the injured.

Meanwhile, a former presidential adviser, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, has promised to build a ‘memorial viewing centre’ in honour of those who died in the Calabar tragedy.

Ita-Giwa, who visited the scene of the incident on Saturday, said the tragedy was unfortunate.

She noted that sports is one of the activities that keep the youth off crime, adding that the incident was pathetic because the deceased left behind their loved ones.

She said, “The youths are unemployed. They do not have any form of relaxation and it is sad to hear that they died while expressing their love for football.

“I am a mother, I feel pained on sighting the viewing centre because when you imagine that these lovely people died after paying N50 to watch a single game is very pathetic. We are going to take a tour of most of the communities to ensure that viewing centres are far from high tension cables because we cannot take away football from the youth.

“As a way of commiserating with the deceased and those injured in the incident, I will build a standard viewing centre for the youths in the community.”

Ita-Giwa, who led other women under the aegis of “Mothers of Efik Kingdom” on the visit to the place, promised that the group would work closely with relatives of the deceased to ensure that they were well catered for.

According to her, the tragedy that befell the state needs national and international support, hence the need for relevant agencies to wade in.

She also laid a wreath at the site of the viewing centre.

In his response, Chairman of Nyangasang Community, Mr. Emmanuel Umoh, thanked Ita-Giwa for the gesture.

Umoh said the tragedy had thrown the whole community into mourning, adding that elders of the community would give her a land to build the viewing centre.

The Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, said seven persons died in the tragedy, adding that 11 others were currently receiving treatment at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.

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