Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led Lagos State Government has confessed that it is indeed planning to bury people killed in October 2020 during the famous EndSars protest in a mass grave.
Within Nigeria had reported earlier in the day, citing a leaked memo, that the state government is planning a mass burial for the victims numbering about 103.
Reacting to the report after the outrage from Nigerians, the government said it resorted to mass burial because relatives of the victims did not come forward to claim their remains.
In a statement on Sunday night, Olusegun Ogboye, permanent secretary, Lagos Ministry of Health, the state government said families of the late victims of the #EndSARS massacre for abandoning the bodies of their loved ones for the state for nearly three years.
“In the aftermath of the #EndSARS violence, the office of the chief coroner invited members of the public throughout public adverts and announcements who had lost loved ones or whose relatives had been declared missing between 19th and 27th October 2020 from various clashes as mentioned above, to contact the department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to help with identification of these casualties deposited in State-owned morgues. Relatives were to undergo DNA tests for identification purposes,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He added, “It is important to state categorically that nobody responded to claim any of the bodies.”
In a letter titled “Mass Burial for 103, The Year 2020 Endsars Victims,” seen by Peoples Gazette and dated July 19 by Lagos State public procurement agency, the state government engaged the service of Messrs Tos Funeral Ltd, a private firm, at the cost of N61,285,000 to bury 103 bodies, which were identified to be victims of the killings.
Following an outburst over the memo, Ogboye said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu approved mass burial for victims to decongest the state morgue.
“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 permanent secretary said.
The state government also claimed that those pencilled for mass burial were victims picked up on the streets in different local government areas across the state during the violence that characterised the aftermath of the protest.
Sanwo-Olu said none of the 103 victims was killed at Lekki Tollgate.
“For the records, the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit (SEHMU) 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 Lagos State, including 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, ” he said.
Exasperated Nigerians had slammed former President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr sanwo-Olu and Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai, calling them “monstrous murderers,” after the letter surfaced online.
#EndSARS, a nationwide protest in 2020 sparked by years extrajudicial killings, extortion and brutality by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police Force, ended on a bloody and devastating note after the government unleashed thugs on protesters, killing protesters and the protest.