25 January 2013

Nigeria: The Mystery Corpses in Anambra

Photo: Capital FM
Police line.


Civilisation certainly remains a work in quirky progress in Nigeria. This reality was again dramatised recently with the shock discovery of about 30 male corpses floating on Ezu River in the border between Enugu and Anambra states of south-eastern Nigeria. The Nigeria Police, with its customary pretensions of efficiency, has moved in and quickly scaled down the figure of the gory find to "only 18".

As it were, the puzzling discovery of these decomposing corpses by fishermen in the part of the river at Amansea, in Awka North local government area of Anambra State last week and the apparently unscientific manner adopted in an effort to unravel the mystery qualify for a script from Nollywood.

It is a compelling, tragic human story that needs a decisive forensic investigative reaction. Responsible agencies of government must clear cobwebs and explain to concerned Nigerians what really transpired. A distraught Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State put off a planned foreign trip and, in something of a knee-jerk reaction has, offered a princely N5million to any person who could conjure clues to help remove the development from the realms of mystery.

The killing and dumping of the dead bodies in question in Ezu River is a despicable act that shrinks our humanity. It must not be allowed to go unresolved, like so many other "mysteries" in our recent national life. The unfolding drama raises several elementary posers.

Reported preliminary investigations have not established that the dead bodies belonged to alien beings on a misadventure to earth. Who killed 18 male Nigerians (if they were Nigerians) and disposed of them in Ezu River which provides water to populations of contiguous communities in that locale?

As the age of recourse to native doctors for solutions are far gone, under appropriate forensic inquiry, dead bodies tell tales about how they were killed. We wonder whey these bodies have not told the police just how they met their gory end and when. What are the challenges hobbling the police from speedy execution of basic investigation of the case?

A comparable incident happened in 2001 when a headless body was found in London's River Thames - the Boy Adam case - when the British police went into over-drive and solved the damning mystery. Deploying the most advanced investigative science available, the Boy Adam, incidentally a young Nigerian boy involved in ritual killing, was unravelled by the police.

The effort to back-track and unearth the story behind the grisly headless and legless torso floating in the Thames is certainly far more arduous than solving the Evu River case where at least 18 bodies are involved.

Just as the recent unscheduled visit by President Goodluck Jonathan to a police college in Lagos is provoking a welcome storm and focus on the condition of police training institutions in the country, the Ezu River's floating corpses should provoke an appropriate reappraisal of the capacity, motivation, equipment and funding of the Nigeria Police to deliver on its critical mandate to secure society.

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