#EndSARS: Lagos plans mass burial for 103 recovered bodies

The Lagos State Government has approved the mass burial of 103 corpses recovered in the aftermath of the mass protest that rocked the state in October 2020 where youths sought the disbandment of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

The state Ministry of Health confirmed this in a statement signed by its Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, made available to our correspondent by Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sunday.

The statement was in reaction to an earlier leaked letter over the weekend from the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, dated July 19, 2023, addressed to the Ministry of Health and signed by the Director-General of the agency, Mr. Onafowote Idowu.

The letter revealed the approval of the sum of N61,285,000 for the mass burial.

It partly read, “We refer to your letter dated July 13, 2023, with Ref No: LSMH/G/NS/013-1/23 in respect of the above subject matter.

“Following our review of your letter and the documents attached, we note the following I. Mr. Governor’s Approval II. Minutes of Ministerial Tenders Board III. Meeting Procurement Planning Committee IV. Sign-off.

“Following review of your request and based on the information provided therein, the agency has ‘No Objection’ to the award of contract to MESSRS. TOS FUNERALS LIMITED at a total cost of N61,285,000 only for the mass burial for the 103, the year 2020 EndSARS victims.”

But in the follow-up statement titled RE: MASS BURIAL OF ENDSARS VICTIMS (MISCHIEF MAKERS AT WORK), Ogboye said the burial was not for any victim allegedly killed at the Lekki Toll Gate during the EndSARS protest but for victims from other parts of Lagos in the aftermaths of the #EndSARS.

Ogboye said, “The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to some social media publications about a purported mass burial plan for casualties of the 2020 #EndSARS incident. Peddlers of the news are deliberately misinterpreting and sensationalising a letter from the Lagos State Government Public Procurement Agency titled: Letter of No Objection – Mass Burial for the 103, the Year 2020 ENDSARS victims, to misinform the public, stir public sentiment and cause public disaffection against the Lagos State Government.

“It is public knowledge that the year 2020 #EndSARS crisis that snowballed into violence in many parts of Lagos recorded casualties in different areas of the state and not from the Lekki Toll Gate as being inferred in the mischievous publications.”

Ogboye said the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit picked up bodies in the aftermath of #EndSARS violence and community clashes at Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo and Ajah areas of the state.

The Perm Sec added that there was also a jailbreak at Ikoyi Prison, saying the 103 casualties mentioned in the document were from these incidents and not from Lekki Toll-gate as alleged. “For the avoidance of doubt, nobody was retrieved from the Lekki Toll Gate incident,” he added.

He said contrary to the narrative weaved around the recently approved mass burial, the #EndSARs Panel subpoenaed the Lagos State chief pathologist to produce full records of unclaimed bodies of dead deposited with the state central morgue during the days immediately preceding and following the event at Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.

He added, “The list with their autopsies of provable cause and circumstances of death was duly submitted and testified to before the panel. This subpoena was at the request of lawyers who represented #EndSARS protesters and the chief pathologist complied. There was not a single finding in the report or ensuing white paper attributing the death of any named citizen listed in the autopsy to the Lekki incident.”

He said following the announcement that relatives of persons who lost loved ones or whose relatives were declared missing between October 19 and 27, 2020 from various clashes as mentioned above, to contact the Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine of the LASUTH, “It is important to state categorically that nobody responded to claim any of the bodies.

“However, after almost three years, the bodies remain unclaimed, adding to the congestion of the morgues. This spurred the need to decongest the morgues – a procedure that follows very careful medical and legal guidelines in the event that a relative may still turn up to claim a lost relative years after the incident.”

The PUNCH reports that the Lagos government in November 2021 released its White Paper on the report by the EndSARS panel that probed the Lekki toll gate incident of October 20, 2020.

The Babajide Sanwo-Olu government faulted the panel’s report that nine persons were killed at the toll gate when soldiers stormed the protest ground to disperse the protesters.

In the White Paper obtained by The PUNCH, the government described the claim of the panel that nine persons were shot dead as “assumptions and speculations.”

The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS-related Abuses and Other Matters had on November 15, 2021, submitted its report after which Sanwo-Olu set up the White Paper committee.

The four-member committee was led by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *