A little over two weeks ago, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) introduced a new dimension to the vexed issue of floating corpses which were recently found on Ezu River in Anambra State. MASSOB said the bodies were those of its members arrested by security agents in different parts of the State.
It claimed that the members in question were secretly executed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police in Awkuzu, Anambra State. To buttress its point, MASSOB even gave the names of its members whose bodies were part of the 22 that were found on Ezu River on January 19, this year.
It will be recalled that the people of Amansea in Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State had, on the aforementioned date, suffered a rude shock with the horrifying sight of dead bodies floating on Ezu River. Obviously perturbed by the development, the Government of Anambra State offered a five million Naira reward to anyone who may offer a clue as to the source of the corpses. On its part, the police in the state said it would do its best to get to the root of the matter. However, MASSOB introduced a twist in the tale when it claimed that some of the dead bodies in question were its members. Since MASSOB made that claim, not much has been done by the police to convince the public that MASSOB was wrong.
If the police offered any explanation or denial, it was largely lame. They treated MASSOB’s claim as an idle talk. We, however, do not think that MASSOB’s claim should be dismissed with a wave of the hand as the police may have tried to do. MASSOB’s position, whether plausible or not, should be treated with seriousness. The police have a responsibility to explain their involvement, or lack of it, in the matter. They must make the public to understand or appreciate the fact that MASSOB’s claim is hollow, if it is truly so.
Since the issue at stake is a serious one, those who have a role to play in explaining it to the public must be seen to be thorough and detailed in their explanations. Dismissive denials of claims made by anybody or group tends to make light of a big issue such as this one. Yet, even if MASSOB did not accuse the police of complicity in this affair, the fact remains that the police and some other relevant security agencies have a responsibility to deal with the matter. As we held in our earlier editorial on this issue, serious investigation must be carried out with a view to getting to the root of the matter. The police and other security agencies owe the public a duty to explain the source of the corpses.
It is, however, disturbing that several weeks after this shocking discovery, no explanation has come from any quarters as to what happened. The police and other concerned government agencies may have gone to sleep knowing full well that Nigerians have put the matter behind them in utter forgetfulness. As a people with short memories, Nigerians may never remember the issue or talk about it again. That is why nothing is ever pursued to its logical conclusion in Nigeria. The people forget everything and therefore learn nothing from experience. It will be most unfortunate if this national embarrassment represented by the floating corpses is left to go the way of other serious issues that have bedeviled the country in the past. The Ezu River incident must not be swept under the carpet.
The people of Nigeria must be told the identity of the corpses and those responsible for the dumping. We are encouraged by the fact that the Government of Anambra State has shown interest in this matter. It should continue to do so until the truth is established. It may even carry out an independent inquiry with a view to knowing the truth. This is more so in the light of the challenge thrown by MASSOB at those concerned, be it the police or the government.