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How Ezu River 19 were killed, by Senate report

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IMAGE: Senate House »

12. June


The mystery surrounding the 19 floating bodies found in Ezu River in Anambra State has been uncovered.

Senate Joint Committee on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence investigated the discovery of the “strange dead bodies” on the river.

The committee has given a graphic picture of how the youths died.

The committee, chaired by Senator Paulinus Igwe Nwagu and Senator Mohammed Magoro, presented shocking autopsy reports of the bodies.

The investigative report of the Joint Committee sighted by our correspondents in Abuja revealed that instead of 30, the victims of the gory incident were 19.

According the autopsy reports, 15 of the 19 bodies were seen.

Six bodies had evidence of gun shots.

The weapon used for all the shots is one type-long range rifle.

Aimed areas of the body: Legs up to the knee cap and some up to the hips.

All the victims dressed alike – boxers or pants.

Suspected cause of death – Hemorrhage resulting from unattended gun shots.

Though the committee submitted a detailed report, it could not establish who did the killings.

The true identities of the victims were also not established by the committee. The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, (MASSOB) told the committee that the victims were its members who were in police custody. The police denied the claim.

The Inspector General of Police told the Committee that on January 19, there was a report of 19 bodies floating on River Ezu, a boundary between Anambra and Enugu states, and that the Commissioners of Police in the states were informed through a phone call.

He said the bodies were found to be clean-shaven, able-bodied young men but that they were already decomposed.

Four of the decomposed bodies were displayed for eight days before they were taken for autopsy.

Nobody or community has complained that they have lost anybody, the IG said, but assured that the police were working with other Security agencies to get to the root of the issue.

The Director General (DG) of the State Security Service (SSS) told the committee that on January 19, 18 bodies were found floating on Ezu River.

He said the Anambra State Governor, who was informed immediately, cut-short a foreign trip and returned home to order the bodies to be removed from the river.

He said the strange development led to several conjectures, such as that they:

•were dumped by security agencies;

•were hired to fight in a war between Cross River and Ebonyi State where they were killed; but there were no signs of bullet wounds;

•were cultists;

•must have died from generator fumes in factories and were dumped there by private multinationals; and that

•they were kidnappers who decided to kill others to carry the ransom.

“All these were mere conjectures and that the result of the autopsy being awaited would expose the possible cause of deaths,” said the DG.

The SSS said the bodies could not have been thrown into the river without the knowledge of the communities.

On alleged complicity of the police, the DG told the committee that the service advocated an audit of suspects in police custody in Anambra and Enugu states.

When asked by the committee whether they ever went on joint operation to Onitsha, the SSS chief said “they went and arrested about 17 persons who were charged to court, the following day and were granted bail.”

The Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, corroborated the account of the Director General, SSS.

On the number of bodies found, “security chiefs were unanimous that they were only 19, not 30 as was being speculated”.

On whether they actually wore identical clothes, boxer shorts and t-shirts, “they responded that they were actually not wearing identical clothes as some wore wrappersa and pants etc”.

According to the report, “the Igwe of Amansea told the committee that the bodies were first seen in the morning of January 19, by some indigenes who went to the river to fetch water.

“The person who actually saw the bodies first could not be identified, the committee said.

The Committee was shown the two graves where some of the bodies were buried but later exhumed.

The Deputy Governor, Mr. Sibeudu, who represented Governor Peter Obi, told the committee that as a result of the seriousness the governor attached to the issue, the government announced a cash reward of N5 million for information on the mystery, but that nobody came forward.

The Committee visited the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Enugu, where they inspected detention cells and facilities.

The Committee noted that after interactive sessions with several stakeholders and thorough investigations into the issue, it found:

•That Ezu River flows down from a town called Agbaogugu through Ogwuoba and Amansea communities and empties into the River Niger. It is a boundary between Aniansea community in Awka North Local Government Area, Anambra State and Ugwuoba community in Oji River Local Government Area, Enugu State.

•that the river is the main source’ of drinking water for the two communities.

•that on the 19th January 2013, 18 strange dead bodies were found floating on the river. One more body was found on the 23rd of January, bringing the total member of bodies found to 19.

•that the bodies were already decomposed at the time they were found, suggesting that they must have died some days earlier before they were dumped.

•that all the bodies were brought out of the river on the instructions of the Governor of Anambra State.

•Some were taken for autopsy; others were buried along the river bank, but were later exhumed for autopsy.

•That there is a police check-point just about 100 metres away from the river on Anambra State side and another one five kilometers on the Enugu State side, and that this check point had been in existence for the past three years.

The Committee recommended “that further forensic analysis of the bullet still lodged in one of the bodies should be carried out so as to ascertain the exact type of gun that fired it and where it is commonly found.

“That the Anambra State Government should also be encouraged to carry out a more thorough DNA test on the bodies as requested by the pathologists.”

Article Credit: The Nation Newspaper

Updated 6 Years ago

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