News / Africa

A Month Later, Nigerians Seek Answers about Bodies in Ezu River

Ezu River, NigeriaEzu River, Nigeria
x
Ezu River, Nigeria
Ezu River, Nigeria
Heather Murdock
More than a month after corpses were found floating in Nigeria’s Ezu River, groups across the country continue to search for answers. Some fear the corpses were victims of extra-judicial killings by Nigerian security forces, a charge the government denies.
 
In a run-down open air market, Peter Odoemene said members of his group, a separatist organization from the Biafra region, are not the only ones demanding an explanation.
 
Police say at least 18 dead bodies were found floating in the Ezu River in Anambra State in late January, in various states of decomposition. Some groups claim the total number of bodies discovered is closer to 50.  

The people have not yet been identified and no one knows who killed them. Police say the investigation is ongoing.  

Odoemene said police are to blame for the deaths, and that 11 members of his group are suspected to be among the dead. He also is disgusted at the way the killers disposed of the bodies.

“That river, people are drinking it. Now it’s contaminated. It’s very bad. Even if those people committed an offense they don’t need to kill them like that and dump them inside the river,” he said.

The discovery of the bodies was a national scandal with government critics saying it is an “open secret” in Nigeria that security forces shoot suspects without a trial. Amnesty International says police killed hundreds of suspects in 2012, often without first arresting the victims.
 
The Nigerian government adamantly denies this charge, with President Goodluck Jonathan saying rival political groups are planting the stories. Officials contacted for this story declined to comment.  
 
Abubakar Umar Kari, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Abuja, said he believes extra-judicial killings are common in Nigeria, but it’s not entirely the fault of the police. He also partially blames corruption in the judiciary.
 
“It is an outcome of frustration by the security forces who feel that these suspects have committed crimes, and if they are taken to court they are usually released only for them to go back to their nefarious acts," said Kari. "At a point it was almost a norm among the Nigerian police to simply execute suspects of armed robbery and other dangerous crimes.”

Kari said the corpses could be Biafra separatists, known as MASSOB. The fact that the group has made these claims public, though. will make police less likely to provide answers because MASSOB advocates that Biafra secede from Nigeria, and has many enemies.    
 
Other less controversial groups also are demanding an explanation about the bodies, including the Nigerian Bar Association, which this week called on Jonathan to set up his own investigation.
 
Clement Nwankwo, the executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center in Abuja, said the main problem is that if the police are guilty, the investigation will never be conclusive. He also calls on the president, saying security forces need more resources and training.
 
"What we expect the president to do is to recognize that the security services have a huge challenge, which is the huge challenge of themselves being targets and not knowing who the next terrorist is, and so tend to react in that atmosphere with fright,” said Nwankwo.
   
Other analysts are more cynical, saying nothing will be done and when the cries for justice die down, Nigerians will suffer “mass amnesia” to cope with the tragedy.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid