28 January 2013

Nigeria: Anambra's Floating Bodies

MORE than a week after bodies were found floating on a river in Amansea, Anambra State, the security agencies appear helpless about identifying the bodies or making any headway about the cause of their death. Governor Peter Obi's promise of N5 million to anyone with information that could help unravel the "mystery" has yielded no results.

A few more weeks and the event would be off the news radar until a deadlier incident, when this one would be used as a reference. It is a shame that such low levels of performances are associated with the security agencies and the public accepts them.

What is impossible about finding out what happened? What have the security agencies done? Is their promoted helplessness a ploy to cover up this incident? Should a single body floating on a river not elicit better concern than we are witnessing?

If these bodies were discovered during the flooding, the simple explanation would have been that they drowned. What happened to them? Earlier reports said there were 50, 40 bodies. The police confirmed 18. Is that not enough for a more vibrant response than treating this like another crime?

Speculations have no place in this matter. The security agencies have scientific assistance they can access if they are ready to find what and who killed them, though reports said they had neither bullet nor machete injuries. An autopsy would reveal the cause of death but not the killers or the motives.

Vital data about at least some of the dead, since they are adults, could have been captured in the finger print data (biometrics) of any of these three organisations and they would be helpful in the investigations:

  • Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from the registrations for the 2011 elections
  •  Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, keeps data, with finger prints of driver's licence holders, some of the dead could be registered drivers
  •  All mobile telephone operators have a database of almost all their subscribers, some of them should have telephones

While INEC and FRSC finger prints could identify the dead, if they used their real names, and locate their families, through who investigators can learn more about their possible killers, the GSM database holds the most promise.

GSM operators can provide the call history of their telephones. The call logs hold the key to the mystery of these deaths. A lot about their daily transactions could be gleaned from a check of call histories which is the most viable lead to the killers.

We indeed have a lot to worry about if the security agencies never knew the best clues to resolving the deaths or just decided to ignore them.

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