-- Families of Niko Ivanka victims complain, but WAEC boss says this is ‘no time for claims and counter-claims’
Relatives of victims of the sunken Niko Ivanka vessel have accused the head of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for allegedly ignoring their concerns since the vessel sank.
Bernice Kollie, a widow of Rancy Kollie, alleged recently in an interview with reporters that she reached out to Dale Gbotoe, head of WAEC, and inquired of the organization’s role in the ongoing search and investigation, but received a disheartening response.
“What is bothering me more is for the WAEC boss to say that he has nothing to do with the matter. He said he is an observer. Imagine that! This is hurting me more,” Mrs. Kollie said.
Another woman, identified as Rebecca, said she holds WAEC responsible for the tragic death of her son.
According to her, upon hearing that her son James was at the Freeport of Monrovia for a trip via sea to Maryland, she phoned her son’s supervisor at WAEC, a man named George who, she claims, told her: “Life is a risk and I have no control over the decision of your son traveling to the Southeast by sea.”
Another woman claiming to be the widow of Joe G. Joe, a Police officer assigned with WAEC, blames the government for the death of her husband because of negligence.
In a telephone interview, with the Daily Observer, the head of WAEC-Liberia, Dale Gbotoe, said he is in sympathy with the families who lost their loved ones on the vessel, including those who worked for his institution office.
He, however, chose not to go into dignifying claims and counter-claims at a time the families, his office, and the country at large are mourning the loss of Liberians who were rendering services for the country.
“The truth will always remain the truth. There are facts but I don’t want to go with the claims and counter-claims here and there,” Gbotoe told the Daily Observer.
He said his office is in close contact with the widows and all other families whose loved ones died at sea while on assignment by WAEC.
“In respect to our fallen brothers and sisters, we will not say anything now. We are all grieving and mourning the tragic passing of them all. This is why we will continue to pay our respect until their remains are laid to rest,” Gbotoe noted.
He pointed out that even after burying the remains of all those recovered from the sea, WAEC-Liberia will not go into any confrontation with the families or anyone else but let the public know what it needs to know.
“Central government is investigating. Maritime is deeply involved with the investigation and, as such, it won’t be a wise decision for me to be here and there speaking on the issue. This is why we are all looking forward to a comprehensive and logical conclusion of the investigation and the actions to follow suit,” he concluded.
It can be recalled that on Saturday July 17, 2021, a vessel, Niko Ivanka, sank in the Atlantic Ocean near Marshall, Margibi County.
Reports say twenty nine persons, including eight WAEC staffers, were on board the vessel but only twelve were rescued through the help of the Armed Force of Liberia (AFL)’s Coast Guard Unit.