[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 11:16 GMT
Torso police return to Africa

By Neil Bennett
BBC Crime correspondent

They cut unusual figures in the sweltering Nigerian heat.

Wearing their smart London business suits, Commander Andy Baker and Detective Inspector Will O'Reilly from Scotland Yard are paying their respects to the local police commissioners and traditional leaders in south western Nigeria.

These are the people who can pass the word on to the villages in the area that anybody who can help the British police should do so.

torso found in Thames
A team of four London detectives are in Nigeria trying to trace the parents of the young boy whose headless and limbless torso was found in the River Thames.

With the blessing and good wishes of the local bigwigs, the men from the Yard exchange the suits for more suitable tropical clothing and get out to the 1,000 villages they have to visit.

Posters offering a reward for information are nailed to trees and huts.

The smart clockwork radios being handed out as a goodwill gesture are grabbed eagerly and the pencils and lapel badges go down well with the children.

Mr O'Reilly, from Scotland Yard's crack murder squad, is comfortable in these surroundings way off his home beat.

I respect the determination and industriousness of the people here
Det Insp Will O'Reilly
"This is the third time I have been to Nigeria as part of this murder investigation.

"It is like no other country I have ever been to and can be incredibly difficult to work in.

"But I respect the determination and industriousness of the people here. "

Difficult is putting it mildly. Mr O'Reilly and his team have a lot of miles to cover in what must be the worst traffic conditions anywhere on earth.

It is not so much the roads, pot holed though they are. It is the manic and insane driving of the average Nigerian.

House-to-house inquiries

Cars cut each other up at breakneck speed until the first man to blink gives way.

Hopelessly overloaded lorries regularly topple over causing huge traffic jams in which drivers jostle with each other for every inch.

The Scotland Yard team travel in convoy with armed police from Nigeria's Highway Patrol.

We are determined to do everything we can to find the killers of young Adam
Commander Andy Baker
When things get really hairy, these muscular Nigerian policemen batter on the roofs of other cars warning them to let the convoy through.

An occasional burst from their AK 47s reminds everyone else on the road that these are not people to be messed with.

At the end of a day of house-to-house inquiries Nigerian style, the London detectives return to the haven of the British High Commission residence in the city of Ibadan.

Sinking into the seats on the veranda overlooking the lush garden, they reflect on why they are here.

" We solve most child murders in London", says Commander Andy Baker, "and we are determined to do everything we can to find the killers of young Adam.

"It was a shocking and gruesome murder which has appalled us and all right-minded people in Nigeria".

And in a lighter aside, Commander Baker says he would love to recruit a couple of those Nigerian cops into the Metropolitan Police.

The BBC's Neil Bennett
"DNA tests will verify whether people are related to young Adam"

Prayers for Thames torso boy
21 Sep 02 |  England


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific