From GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka
Residents of Amansea in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State woke up yesterday morning to a horrifying discovery of over 30 dead bodies floating in Ezu River in the community. The river is at the boundary between Enugu and Anambra states and the dead bodies were found at the old Enugu-Onitsha road axis of the river.
The corpses that could not be easily identified, were suspected to have been dumped in the river Friday night by unknown persons. Some fishermen and sand excavators discovered the decomposing bodies at the bank of the river. People from all over the state and neighbouring Enugu state including travellers besieged the river yesterday to catch a glimpse of the dead bodies. Meanwhile, government sources said that Governor Peter Obi has cut short his working trip abroad on hearing of the incident and would return to the state immediately.
When reporters visited the scene, three more bodies were seen floating toward the other bodies in Amansea-Ugbenu- Ebenebe town. Natives of Amansea who were still in shock over the discovery stated that some of the bodies they saw had been swept away while some were still buried down the river and would float later. Speaking to reporters, the traditional ruler of Amansea community, Igwe Kenneth Okonkwo, described it as a sad development, noting that his community had not witnessed such a gory sight before.
On the number of bodies so far seen, the monarch said he could not say exactly the total number of dead bodies found in the river but that they were too many, adding that his people would take counts as the dead bodies flow. However, addressing newsmen, the Commissioner for Local Government, Mrs Azuka Enemuo who was in the company with her Environment counterpart and the Awka North local government chairman, said the discovery was strange and that government would get to its root. She further said: “We have seen about 14 floating bodies so far and this is a river at the boundary between Enugu and Anambra states.
This river actually runs from somewhere in Agbogu Enugu through Oji River cross Anambra state and empties into River Niger. “It is obvious that these corpses are flowing from somewhere and I can tell you we haven’t seen the last of it. We cannot say for instance, that this is the number because they are still floating. From the account we have, corpses are still floating down into Anambra state.” The Commissioner explained that the security agencies have been informed about the incident, adding that the governor who was outside the country on an official assignment had cut short his trip and was on his way back to the state.
She said that Enugu state government officials had been contacted, “to come and witness with us because it is a river on the boundary of Anambra and Enugu states and it is floating into Anambra state.” Confirming the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka said that the command was aware of the incident and that it has commenced investments, assuring that it would soon unravel what happened. The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Balla Nasarawa, has also confirmed the incident, adding that investigation had begun to unravel the mystery.
“Our attention was drawn to the incident and we immediately dispatched our men. As you can see, we are at the scene and we saw some corpses flowing on the river. I have contacted my colleague in Enugu since we share the boundary so that we can carry out a high level investigation into the incident. “I don’t know the exact number of bodies, but we have seen about 10 to 15 corpses afloat the river,” he said. Nasarawa, however, denied reports that it was a recurrent incident being carried out by the police, saying this was his first time of getting such a report. “I don’t think that is true but we shall investigate and keep the public informed after we conclude our investigation,” he said.
The Amansea River is a tributary of River Niger deriving its source from Agbuogugu community in Enugu and flows through Orji to Amansea. The river is also a source of drinking water to the people of Amansea and neighbouring communities. The Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mrs Azuka Enemuo, described the incident as a gory one and a waste of human lives, adding “it is a crime against humanity.’’ The commissioner also noted that the bodies found were not fresh corpses. “It was a discovery made by the households who normally come down to get water for their domestic chores. It is a horrible site.
“It is obvious that these corpses are from somewhere and I can tell you that we have not seen the last of it or say this is the actual number,” she said. She said that the government would sink additional boreholes in the area to ameliorate the water challenges of the people who drink and carry out other domestic chores from the river. “The demand to take water from an existing borehole would be high now. We shall collaborate with the traditional ruler to sink more boreholes to ameliorate the water challenges of the people,” she said.
Also speaking, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Kenneth Okonkwo, who expressed shock at the development, said that finding an alternative source of potable water for the people had become paramount. Okonkwo said he would collaborate with security agents to unravel the mysterious incident and work with the state government in providing water for the people.
In separate remarks, the Transition Chairman of the Council Area, Mrs Joy Enweluzor, and the Vice President-General of the community, Mr Maduka Okoye, said that none of the bodies found afloat had been identified as members of the community. They added that no member of the community had also been reported missing.