Outrage as Lagos Plans Mass Burial for 103 EndSARS Victims
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigerians have expressed outrage as the Lagos State government ordered the mass burial of 103 people who died in violence linked to protests in October 2020, whose bodies were not claimed by relatives.
In a memo dated July 19, 2023, which can be found online and later confirmed by the state government, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government approved N61.285 million for the mass burial of 103 persons, which many believe are victims of 2020 shootings at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, though the government has maintained that nobody was killed in the incident.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health, as part of efforts to clear a misinterpretation, said that this development was carried out to ease congestion in the state mortuaries.
The five-paragraph memo also directs that relevant taxes and deductions are remitted by the approved company, TOS Funerals Limited.
The state government argued that the victims were from incidents of violence that occurred in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests.
There has been controversy over the number of deaths recorded during the EndSARS protest, resulting in the governor setting up an inquest led by Justice Doris Okuwobi.
Since the protest in 2020, both the Lagos Government and the federal government have consistently denied any mass killing during the EndSARS protests.
Thousands of Nigerians across the country took to the streets to protest police brutality and called for far-reaching reforms, including the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police over allegations of extrajudicial killings.
The weeks-long protests, which gained international attention, culminated in the controversial shooting of protesters at the popular Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, one of the rallying points for those who took part in the demonstrations.
However, the Lagos State Government, in its response to the memo, maintained that the victims to be buried were not from the Lekki Tollgate shooting.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusegun Ogboye, said the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit (SEHMU) picked up bodies in the aftermath of #EndSARS violence and community clashes.
The areas cited included Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo and Ajah areas of Lagos State. Ogboye added that there was also a jailbreak at Ikoyi Prison.
“The 103 casualties mentioned in the document were from these incidents and NOT from Lekki Toll-gate as being alleged. For the avoidance of doubt, nobody was retrieved from the Lekki Toll Gate incident,” the statement read.