From GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka
There were confusing and contradicting testimonies at the public hearing held in Awka by the joint Senate Committees on Police Affairs and National Security Intelligence over the mystery bodies found floating on Ezu River, Amansea, Awka North Local Government Area on January 19. Also, the state police command has confessed that it was having a serious problem with the investigation of the incident, just as it condemned the haste in which the bodies were buried.
The Senate committees led by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Igwe Paulinus Nwagu and his National Security Intelligence colleague, Mohammed Mangoro, which visited the traditional ruler of Amansea, Igwe Kenneth Okonkwo and the Ezu River before the public hearing at the Conference Hall of the Government House, Awka, were not also happy with the haste in which the bodies were buried and the nearness of the burial site to the river. Other members in the team are Chris Ngige, Mohammed Sani Sani, Solomon Ewuga and Mohammed Shaaba Lafiaji.
The senators had more than they bargained for when people and organisations came up with frightening revelations of alleged atrocities taking place at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Awkuzu, in the state, which had earlier been accused by some bodies as being responsible for the incident. Testimonies were taken from the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Lawrence Ikeakor, Commissioner for Local Government, Mrs. Azuka Enemou, the Chairman, Awka North Local Government Transition Committee,
Mrs. Joy Enwenuzor, Anambra Police Commissioner, Bala Nassarawa, state Director of the SSS, Mr. Alex Okoiyi, the National Director of Information, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uche Madu and a legal practitioner, Mr. Emmanuel Udegbunam. Nasarrawa denied claims by MASSOB that nine of its members arrested by the joint team of police, army and SSS and handed over to SARS, Awkuzu, were missing and might be among those found in Ezu River. He described them as baseless as he said he “has the names of the people published as victims and we checked with our records and discovered that there were no such names.”
The SSS director agreed that there was a raid carried out around the period mentioned by MASSOB but could not confirm if it was the same date, just as he confirmed that about four persons arrested were handed over to the police as was the normal practice. The police boss also denied giving authorisation for the burial of the corpses as, according to him, it was not the duty of the police but disclosed that police went to court and got court order for the burial of the three bodies taken away for autopsy but did not say who buried them. He, however, in an answer to a question stated that it was the responsibility of the local government to bury people in such a situation.
He said, “when the governor cut short his visit outside the country and returned because of the incident, he asked me about the evacuation and the arrangement for the burial and I told him it was not the duty of the police and that it is the responsibility of the local government. He then said whoever duty it is, we should cooperate to evacuate the bodies first.” On why police had not unraveled the mystery, the police commissioner told the joint committees that, “there is serious problem with the investigation as there seem to be a conspiracy of silence.
People have refused to come up with useful information despite the pledge of N5 million reward by Governor Peter Obi to anybody that would offer useful lead to the incident.” Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikeakor, had said he brought in pathologists to carry out autopsy on the bodies and that the three bodies taken away was by the authorisation of police, adding that the police pathologist was in the team that carried out the autopsy but added that the results were yet to be out as the pathologists took some sample tissues to laboratory.
At the hearing the MASSOB Director of Information, Uchenna Madu gave testimony and insisted that nine members of their movement handed over to SARS Awkuzu were missing and might be part of the bodies found floating in the river because police had neither released them nor arraigned them in court. He said for the shortness of information about the public hearing, he would have brought the family members, including wives and children of some of the alleged victims and promised to do so if given another opportunity.