26 January 2013

Nigeria: Mystery Death - Anambra to Exhume 15 Bodies

Anambra State Government Friday said that 15 out of the recovered 18 bodies found floating on Ezu River in Amansea, Awka North Local Government Area, last week, which were buried while investigations on the source of the bodies and possible cause of death were ongoing would be exhumed next Monday for autopsy.

The state's Commissioner for Health, Dr. Lawrence Ikeako who spoke when he led a team of his ministry's officials to meet with the traditional ruler and people of Amansea said, "after carrying out an autopsy on selected three bodies, the five man team of pathologists decided to exhume the rest for further autopsy because it would be a presumption to say that they all died of the same reason."

He spoke on a day a renowned businessman and philanthropist in Anambra State, Dr. Obinna Uzoh through his Obinna Uzoh Foundation donated over 20, 000 cartons of sachet and bottled water as well as two tankers of water to assist the community access clean water since the Ezu River which is their only source of water had been contaminated.

Uzoh who described the dumping of the mystery corpses as very unfortunate, noted that the contaminated water could pose environmental risk to the people of the area.

The state's health commissioner who interacted with him said that his team came in continuation of government's intervention and responsibility to the people, adding that while the state government is working closely with Igwe Kenneth Okonkwo, the traditional ruler of the community, it is also taking the necessary measures in the area of health and sanitation.

The immediate measure being taken by the state government he said was to follow due process which began with the conduct of the autopsy on the first three bodies and the need to exhume the 15 already buried for further examination to determine the cause of death for all the corpses.

While disagreeing that preliminary findings on the three already examined might have revealed some discrepancies on the cause of death to inform the exhuming of the 15 buried corpses, Dr Ikeako said that the five man team of pathologists drawn from the Police medical team, Anambra State ministry of Health and its Enugu State counterpart was on top of the matter and would make its findings public as soon as the autopsy was concluded.

For instance, the pathologists, he said, had done an exhaustive autopsy on the three bodies selected for examination including looking at the corpses in totality and taking some specimens for further toxicological investigation in the laboratory.

He appealed to members of the public not to politicize the discovery of the corpses on the river because "it is something between two states and in this modern era, there are so many means to still find out what killed the victims."

He added that since the incident, the state government had spent about N800,000 to bring out the corpses and carry out the autopsy.

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