The #EndSARS protest in Anambra State has given a clue as to how about 25 corpses were dumped into the Ezu River eight years ago by unknown persons.
The protesters, who were carrying pictures of those dumped in the river, demanded the arrest and prosecution of the former Officer in Charge of the Special Anti robbery Squad (SARS), in the state, James Nwafor, who was in charge when the incident occurred.
According to one of the protesters’ spokemen, Mr. Ifeanyi George, those corpses were suspects in the custody of the SARS.
He alleged that they were killed and dumped inside the Ezu River when Nwafor was in charge of the unit. In 2012 residents of Awka, the Anambra State capital, woke up to discover over 25 corpses dumped in the Ezu River at the boundary of Awka and Enugu states.
The then Anambra State government called for a medical investigation into the matter and till date, no report has been made public. Eight years later, the troubling incident was brought to the fore again by the ongoing protest by Nigerian youths with the hash tag, #EndSARSNow.
It was in the process that mystery behind the corpses dumped at Ezu River was unravelled. The man at the centre of the storm is Mr. James Nwafor, former Officer in Charge of SARS, at Awkuzu Oyi, Local Government Area of the state.
Consequently, the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, announced the sacking of Nwafor, who was until the sack, Special Adviser to the governor on Security. Obiano further promised to visit the offices of SARS speak to inmates in police custody and ensure the release of those that were unjustly detained by the proscribed body.
According to the release signed by the Commissioner for Information, C Don Adinuba, shortly after a meeting by government and leaders of Anambra youths and officials of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Obiano has set up a broad based panel to look into reports of abuse of human rights by the defunct SARS in the state over the years.
The panel is headed by Hon Justice V. N Umeh (rtd). The panel, which is made up of Representatives of the students union, Civil Liberty Organisation, Ohaneze youths, traditional rulers, members of the National Youth Service Corps and Anambra Association of Town Unions (ASATU) youth wing, is also changed with the responsibility of looking into allegations of extrajudicial killings by Nwafor, while he was in charge of SARS in the state.
According to Adinuba, Nwafor would be prosecuted if found guilty, adding that the governor has directed the Police Commissioner, Mr. John Abang, to review all detainees, not only SARS, but in all police formations in the state to ensure freedom and dignity of all citizens. The panel has 30 days to complete its assignment and report back to the government.
But the protesters have refused to vacate the Onitsha- Enugu Expressway, demanding an official documentation of Nwafor’s sack. Lauding the efforts of the state government while calling for an over view of the activities of SARS and other organisations, a UK-based legal practitioner, Mr. Paul Onuachalla, who is also a human rights activist, called for the reform of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies in the country.