A spokesperson for the Anambra Police Command, Emeka Chukwuemeka, has confirmed that 18 bodies were removed from the Ezu River of Amansea in Anambra state by Sunday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that members of the Amansea community, near Awka, had woken up Saturday morning to discover 15 corpses afloat the river bordering Anambra and Enugu states.
Police Spokesman Chukwuemeka, who made the confirmation to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka, said specifically that “as at Sunday, 18 bodies were found at the time of evacuation”.
He said that investigation was ongoing, even as Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra has offered to pay N5 million as reward to anyone with useful information leading to the source of the unidentified corpses discovered floating on the Ezu River on Saturday.
Mr. Obi visited the Ezu River in Amansea, a border town with Enugu State, the scene where the corpses were still floating on Sunday.
He described the discovery as “mindless killing” and dumping of the corpses as “barbaric and shocking.”
“What happened here is unacceptable in any decent society. Human life and blood is sacred and all of us must respect the sanctity of human life,” Mr. Obi said.
Mr. Obi assured that Anambra and Enugu state governments would have no stone unturned to get to the root of the matter, irrespective of whom the victims were.
The governor said that human life was sacred and people should respect the sanctity of human life.
He said that such barbaric act should be condemned in a decent society at this time and age.
Mr. Obi directed the police to commence immediate recovering and evacuation of the bodies while the joint investigation by the police in Anambra and Enugu State commands had commenced.
The governor assured that the two state governments have considered arrangement to provide alternative source of regular water supply.
Mr. Obi, who was accompanied by the State Police Commissioner, Mr Bala Nassarawa and other top government officials, urged the people to remain calm as the state governments were on top of the situation.
The governor explained that he had to cut short his overseas trip to come and see things for himself.
He said that Anambra and Enugu state Governments were joining hands to investigate the incident to get to the very end of it.
“The police have been directed to move in their homicide teams and recover the bodies,” he said.
The governor directed residents of the two communities bordering the river, Amansea in Anambra and Ugwuoba in Enugu State, to desist from fetching water from the river until the river was cleared and cleaned up.
Mr. Obi implored the communities around the area to desist from using the water from the river in order to avoid health issues.
He said the communities would be supplied with potable water in the meantime.
Meanwhile, the evacuation of the bodies begun at about 4 p.m. on Sunday with a discovery of three additional corpses, bringing the total number to 18.
The evacuation was done by some officials in traditional canoes, who moved around the river retrieving bodies to a designated place, apparently for mass burial.
Also on duty for the evacuation were pathologists from the Police and state government, who were expected to carry out autopsy on some of the bodies retrieved.
A NAN check further reveals that the state government has started supplying water to the residents of Amansea, who hitherto depended on the polluted Ezu River for their routine water needs.
Some articulated vehicle water tankers were stationed in strategic areas in Amansea, supplying water to the needy people.
The State Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Azuka Enemuo, confirmed the evacuation exercise and water supply.
“We will commence drilling of boreholes on Monday to further ameliorate the water plights of the community.”
However, residents of the two neighbouring communities have raised concerns about the health consequences of allowing the corpses to pollute the river, which they depend on for domestic use and economic activities.
Benjamin Onwuneme, a resident of Amansea, said the people depended on the river for a number of economic activities, including fishing and sand excavation.