Analysis: The mystery of River Ezu and the floating bodies

by Awenlimobor Sylvester

If the Nigerian Police Force does not re-orientate itself it would keep amassing loads of unsolved cases and its public image would only get worse.

First the people of Amansea and then others from other parts of Nigeria awoke on Sunday January 20th to the horrifying scenes at Ezu river where over 30 bodies at various stages of decomposition were found either floating or embedded inside the river, but the mystery behind this quite inhumane act is as confounding as the act itself.

River Ezu flows from Enugu State into Anambra State, and from preliminary investigation by the Nigerian police there are indications that this incidence is not a precipitate of a recent communal clash (which is not a rarity in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria) between villages along the river line as most of the villages did not raise any alarm of missing persons. Also adding to the quandary is the wholesomeness of the bodies, there were no immediately observed mutilations or anatomical excavation of body parts on the victims that would have suggested a mass ritual ordeal by the victims and more importantly the victims were all male.

In Nigeria most murder cases are investigated on the pages of newspapers and tabloids, at recreational drinking spots and less busy office areas, where Nigerians conjure and hypothesize on who they believe carried out the attacks, but it is the constitutional duty of the Nigerian Police force to conduct such investigations.

The preservation of crime scenes is very important towards achieving investigative results, but as seen in most parts of the country, crime scenes are often contaminated by people who either are amazed by the severity of the crime, intrigued by the content of the victim’s wallets or those wishing to have a first-hand observation for their intended gossip session. Often times, law enforcement officers are culpable of negligence and do not restrict individuals away from crime spots, pointing at their palpable lack of professionalism and sense of responsibility.

There is also the need for proper forensic by our law enforcement officers in their investigations. Fingerprints and DNA tests would easily have made for easy identification of the victims. Of course this is also a draw back to our poor Identity recording system in the country. Identification of the victims would have gone a long way in creating leads for the police force to unravel the mysterious incidence.

More importantly, the operational control of the Police Force ought to be placed on the Police Chief rather than the President as we currently have. This was a major recommendation by the Civil Society panel on Police Reform in 2012 where it recommended that “To ensure its effectiveness, the Nigeria Police must be free from the likelihood of partisan control by political authorities in the exercise of its operational powers. To achieve this, the CSO Panel recommends that Section 215(3) of the Constitution should be amended as part of the present Constitutional Reform process to restrict the role of the President, or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorize, and Governors to issuing lawful policy directives to the Nigeria Police”.

One could not agree more, that there is a high sense of distrust for the Law enforcement agencies in the country, residents of the surrounding villages around Ezu River were seen at several police stations ensuring that their relatives and loved ones were still in detention amidst fears that they might have been dumped into the river as a possible decongestion policy of the Police force. Laughable but possible. If the Nigerian Police Force does not re-orientate itself it would keep amassing loads of unsolved cases and its public image would only get worse. It can begin with unraveling the mystery of River Ezu through proper investigation and restore some hope amongst Nigerians.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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