The death of Skye Bank manager and brother cannot be explained - Family Says

The family of Mr. Ubong Ekpe, the late Manager of Skye Bank Plc, Abak Road Branch, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has described the death of the victim and his brother, Francis, at the Ibeno Beach as “inexplicable.”

A member of the family, Charles Ekpe, who spoke to PUNCH Metro on Wednesday, said the beach was unsafe for recreational activities, adding that if the family had known, it would not have gone there.

PUNCH correspondent had reported that Ubong and Francis drowned during a picnic at the beach on Sunday.

Their bodies floated in the early hours of Monday.

The state police command had said that the incident happened around 8.30pm, adding that Francis drowned while attempting to rescue his brother who first drowned.

Charles, who claimed to be a survivor, said the siblings drowned around 5pm, adding that the family left the beach around 8pm after searching for them in vain.

He said, “We are 12 children in the family: six boys and six girls. While some of us are in Nigeria, others are outside the country. We go to the beach for picnic at least once every year.

“Ubong suggested that since we could not go during the Christmas and Easter celebrations, we should go last Saturday. We later agreed to go on Sunday. At least eight families were at the beach. We were over 30 in number.

“We got there around 3pm, ate and took pictures. After we finished eating, the men went to play football; the children went to play with water, while the women watched them.

“I fell on the sand and decided to clean up in the ocean. I was washing myself when all of them (the men) came to join me in the water. The water was at our waist level when our eldest brother asked us to come out.

“We moved out and the water was at our knees. Suddenly, something we cannot explain happened. The waves covered us, as the sand caved in. While three of us succeeded in coming out, Ubong and Francis couldn’t.”

He said the family called for the assistance of life guards, who were not available at the beach.

Charles added that some local divers entered the water to search for the victims without any result.

He noted that after futile search, the family left the beach and returned the following day when the corpses were found on the beach line.

The survivor described 43-year-old Ubong as friendly and jovial, adding that he had been responsible for the care of their aged parents in Uyo.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Francis, a private secondary school teacher, was supposed to clock 32 in May 2018.

It was gathered that the family were indigenes of the Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

Ubong’s four children, whose ages ranged from one to eight, were all said to be in nursery school.

Charles said the family regretted using the beach.

“If we had any iota of doubt that the beach was not 100 per cent safe, we would not have gone there. Where we were was very sandy. When the waves came, they stopped at our knees. So, it was the safest place we could have stood. What happened was inexplicable: the ground caved in, a big wave came, covered us, and suddenly, the water covered our heads.

“I don’t believe in mystical powers. Maybe an oceanographer may have an explanation for what happened. But that beach is unsafe for any form of recreational activity. It was the following day that the village head told us that lives are lost at the beach regularly,” he added.

The victim’s wife was said to be too distraught to speak to our correspondent.

The Chairman of Beach Maintenance Committee, Ibeno, Mr. Peter Nkan, who described the incident as sad, asked for the help of the government in procuring life jackets.

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