No fewer than 50 unidentified and bloated corpses have been discovered floating on Ezu River in Amansea community, near Awka; a boundary area between Enugu and Anambra states, both in eastern Nigeria.
The corpses were reportedly found at about 8 a.m. on Saturday, when villagers went to the river to fetch water for their domestic chores.
The people counted up to 50 bodies and alerted their traditional ruler who mobilized his cabinet for an emergency meeting after which the state government and the state police command were contacted.
The stench from the decomposing bodies could be picked from about one kilometer from the river and the development attracted many people to the area.
When reporters arrived the scene, indigenes of the communities bordering the river were seen in groups discussing the development, even as they said that nobody from their various communities was missing.
The Amansea River is a tributary of River Niger and derives 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 state Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mrs Azuka Enemuo, who visited the scene, described the incident as a gory one and a waste of human lives, adding “it is a crime against humanity.’’
Enemuo said: “Since our arrival, we have counted about 14 dead bodies floating on this river and we may not have seen the last. We were duly informed by the security agencies and we believe they will carry out investigations to tell us actually what transpired.
“We have already contacted our neighboring Enugu State government to find out if the bodies came from that state. The state government must get to the root of this matter.”
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.
The commissioner also commended the people of the community for being security conscious and for having confidence and trust in government.
Igwe Kenneth Okonkwo said, apart from the mystery posed by the floating bodies, the worry of his people was that their main source of water supply may have been polluted.
According to him, the river is the only source of water for the five communities of Amansea, Ebenebe, Ugbenu, Ugbene and Oba-Ofemili and the development had caused a lot of discomfort to his people.
Anambra State police command, through its spokesman, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka, told reporters that the police would carry out a thorough investigation with a view to unraveling the mystery behind the floating bodies.
Meanwhile, Enugu State Police Commissioner, Mr. Musa Daura, said his command would probe the mystery surrounding the bodies.
The commissioner, who visited the scene, yesterday, said he would join hands with his Anambra State counterpart to investigate the source of the corpses.
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.
Confirming the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Balla Nasarawa, said 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.