The Anambra Truth, Justice and Peace Commission (TJP) has sealed off a suspected mass grave site in the state for forensic investigation. The site was discovered during the second phase of public hearing by the commission, which was set up to inquire into the violent agitations and restiveness in the state and in neighbouring states.
The commission, headed by Prof Chidi Odinkalu, interrogated 39 witnesses who testified on oath and collected 243 exhibits from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3. The commission also met with 31 petitioners, including 11 organisations, 19 communities and one individual.
According to the statement released by Bianca Ojukwu, a member of the commission, some 322 persons were verified as killed or dead as a result of violence, while 18 persons were categorically identified as missing or disappeared.
“In the course of the proceedings, the gruesome discovery of a mass grave site was brought by testimonies, to the attention of the commission,” she said.
Prof Odinkalu mandated that the site be sealed for forensic investigation by pathologists. “This will help in unraveling who the victims were and the circumstances of their deaths,” Ojukwu said.
The TJP commission had earlier held the first phase of its public hearing between June and July this year, in which it considered 24 petitions and met with 48 witnesses from 14 communities.
The commission was constituted by Gov. Charles Soludo in June 2022 to address the security challenges and human rights violations in the state. A Bureau of Missing Persons, as recommended by the commission, has already been established in the state to document the missing and the circumstances of their disappearance.
“We are living in alarming and anxiety inducing times. May God heal our Land. Amen,” Ojukwu said in the statement.