People in Nigeria are up in arms after pictures of a gruesome crime scene in Nigeria showed up on the Internet. Anchor Marco Werman finds out more from the BBC's Caroline Duffield who's in Lagos.
MARCO WERMAN: In Nigeria, a gruesome crime has people up in arms. The outrage has sparked a government investigation, too. Now, crime in Nigeria is hardly news. But this crime has gotten a lot of attention after graphic pictures of the victims turned up on the Internet. The BBC's Caroline Duffield is in Lagos. Caroline, what kind of crime are talking about here?
CAROLINE DUFFIELD: Well, these pictures appeared on the Internet just in the last couple of days. What we're talking about are pictures that show a large number of men and women crushed to death on the road. It's very difficult to know exactly what happened. What we're being told by local reporters is that this was an armed robbery; that it happened on the Lagos-Benin Expressway; that it happened last week. What we understand is that a criminal gang targeted a bus carrying traders and that people were forced off the bus. Some reports say that women were sexually assaulted, and there are also reports that the passengers were made to lie down in the road and that the bus driver was then forced to run over the passengers, and this is how quite so many died. We should say, though, Marco, that it is very difficult to know the facts because it is clear the police did not attend the scene, and no evidence was gathered at the scene. So we're relying on eye witnesses and local journalists. And as you say, the anger that this has provoked has prompted an inquiry in Nigeria's Senate.
WERMAN: And the police have actually come in for criticism for their response to this, or rather lack of response to it.
DUFFIELD: They certainly have come in for a fair deal of criticism. The police in Nigeria are criticized anyway. What traders that we've been speaking to today say, is that it is dangerous to travel by bus in this country, full stop. They say at nighttime, they risk facing armed robbery and they risk shooting in that way. In the daytime, they have to go through police roadblocks and police checkpoints and that, [SOUNDS LIKE] oh, that people regularly die in Nigeria in altercations with police at checkpoints. Hundreds of people die every year in this way. What the criticism of the police is in this instance is that there were no police on the Lagos-Benin Expressway at the time that this robbery happened. A lot of questions are being asked about why the lack of police presence. And in Nigeria, what you commonly find is that there are allegations of corruption against the police, that police are colluding with criminal gangs, that the police flee a checkpoint and then a gang of armed robbers comes along the road, robbing people. Those sorts of allegations are clearly out there in the public domain in this instance. And the Nigerian Senate have now called the Inspector General of Police to appear before them and to brief them on the security situation on Nigeria's roads.
WERMAN: Nigeria's government is kind of disarray at the moment. President Yar'Adua is back in Nigeria, but ill. His Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, has presidential powers. But everything seems a little shaky at the moment. Does this disarray make an investigation and coordinating an investigation especially difficult right now?
DUFFIELD: It may well do. Politicians have been distracted all of last week with a lot of political upheaval, as you say. I think that this case has triggered a lot of emotion, though, a lot of condemnation of the police and a lot of emotion. We've heard debate on the Senate floor just yesterday. People want answers from the police in this country. Police violence and violence at the hands of armed robbers and the general security situation is a massive concern, so I think the public pressure will grow. If you look at message boards, online blogs, they're [INDISCERNIBLE] with comment and anger about these particular photographs.
WERMAN: Caroline, this is the second time in recent months ? the first time being the massacre by soldiers of civilians at a stadium rally in Conakry, Guinea ? second time that atrocities are captured in digital images online. It seems digital imaging is kind of becoming a tool of powerless people there.
DUFFIELD: It is, and I think especially so here in Nigeria, where it is hard to find institutions in this country that are not touched by corruption. Certainly the newspapers, the media organizations in this country - the perception among Nigerians is that they cannot trust them. And so what you find overwhelmingly in Nigeria is a very, very active bunch of citizen journalists ? people taking pictures on their mobile phones, people posting on blogs, people sending emails to journalists. I first got emails of this from friends yesterday. So there was a huge buzz around this in Nigeria. And that's really how these pictures have spread. The anger is out there. Nigerians, I should say, are used to large numbers of bodies simply piling up, when it's political violence in the north, when there are clashes, for example; and just when there's violence in the delta. But I think they're especially angry at the sight of ordinary men and women traders who are traveling home on these busses, trying to make a living, desperate to feed their families ? jobs are very hard to come by here ? and the traders day and night go back and forth, traveling at night because it's quicker and easier and they can get a place on the bus ? but they know the dangers that they face. And I think the fact that these are ordinary men and women, it's not political, it's not in the delta, has really sparked a lot of anger and upset here.
WERMAN: The BBC's Caroline Duffield in Lagos. Caroline, thanks for your time.
DUFFIELD: Yes. Thank you.