The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, said he was saddened by the drowning of nine National Youth Service Corps members in River Mayo-Selbe in the Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State on Saturday.
The victims were among the 22 youth corps members who had gone on a picnic around the area when the incident happened.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, the Acting President extended condolences to the families and relations of the nine youth corps members on behalf of himself and the Federal Government.
Osinbajo said with the tragic incident, the nation had lost some of its talented and productive young people in their prime.
He said, “This terrible occurrence has abruptly ended the lives of these young men and women while they were dutifully engaged in national service.
“The Federal Government appreciates their service to the nation and it is my prayer that God will comfort their families and loved ones, and that we would not witness such a calamity again.
“I would like to express my condolences to the families of the late youth corps members, the NYSC management and the people of Taraba State, where the sorrowful incident occurred and Edo, Enugu, Delta and Imo states from where the identified victims hailed.”
Meanwhile, the NYSC has declared a three-day national mourning to sympathise with the families of nine corps members who drowned in River Mayo-Selbe, near the Gashaka falls, in the Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State.
It was learnt from the NYSC authorities that the mourning began on Monday and would end by Wednesday, during which the NYSC flags nationwide would fly at half-mast.
The NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, who confirmed the mourning period in a release on Monday, said the authorities were “shocked and saddened by the cruel twist of fate that befell our corps members.”
It was reported on Monday that the deceased corps members were part of 22 NYSC members who went for a picnic at the river.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Taraba State Police Command, ASP David Missal, had said the police were able to recover seven corpses from the total number of the deceased, noting that investigation was ongoing.
The NYSC spokeswoman, Adeyemi, said on Monday that the drowning was caused by the sudden increase and surge of the River Mayo-Selbe.
She added that the two remaining corpses of the corps members had yet to be found.
Adeyemi said, “The NYSC is shocked and saddened by the cruel twist of fate that befell our corps members who drowned as a result of the sudden increase in water volume and surge of the River Mayo-Selbe.
“The serving corps members had last Saturday left their places of primary assignment and embarked on a picnic at the site before the unfortunate incident.
“Seven bodies have so far been recovered from the river by the local divers and security agents while the search for the remaining two missing corps members is ongoing.
“The management has, therefore, declared three days of mourning for the souls of our departed heroes, beginning from Monday, during which NYSC flags nationwide would fly at half-mast. Our prayers and condolences are with the families and the scheme covets your prayers at this moment.”
Meanwhile, the Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, on Monday, also condoled with the NYSC and families of the nine corps members who died.
This is contained in a statement issued in Jalingo and signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Bala Dan-Abu.
The statement quoted Governor Ishaku as saying, “The incident is unfortunate and regrettable.
“My sympathy goes to the families, the National Youth Service Corps and colleagues of the nine corps members who drowned during a picnic in the Gashaka LGA of the state at the weekend.
“I pray to God Almighty to grant the parents and relations of the deceased the fortitude to bear these painful losses.”
Ishaku advised corps members to always inform officials of the NYSC and those of their primary assignments in advance of their plans to travel and embark on social outings which could be prone to some hazards so that adequate security and safety covers would be officially made for them.
“This unfortunate case of the drowning of young men and women could perhaps have been avoided if participants in the tragic picnic incident had involved the NYSC officials and other security agencies.
“I, therefore, urge Youth Corps Members serving across the country to always involve authorities in the areas of their plans to embark on such outings and seek the company of rescue officials in case things go wrong,” the statement ended.