ENDSARS: Controversial Approval for Mass Burial of 103 ‘ENDSARS Victims’

-Ikenna Okafor

The Lagos State Government has granted approval for the mass burial of 103 victims recovered after the #ENDSARS protests that shook the state in October 2020.

The confirmation came through a press statement issued by the state Ministry of Health and signed by its Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye.

Controversy arose following the leak of a letter from the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, dated July 19, 2023, addressed to the Ministry of Health and signed by the Agency’s Director-General, Mr. Onafowote Idowu.

Part of the leaked letter reads:
“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 the 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.”

The leaked letter has sparked speculations and raised concerns about the state government’s role in concealing the true number of casualties at the Lekki toll gate when the military opened fire on unarmed protesters.

However, in the official press statement, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye clarified that the mass burial is 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 aftermath of the #EndSARS.

He further highlighted that the #EndSARS Panel had subpoenaed the Lagos State chief pathologist to produce full records of unclaimed bodies of the deceased deposited at the state central morgue during the days immediately preceding and following the event at Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020.

“The list, along with autopsies, provable cause, and circumstances of death, was duly submitted and testified before the panel,” Dr. Ogboye stated. “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.”

It is worth recalling that the Lagos State government had previously faulted the report of the #ENDSARS panel that investigated the Lekki toll gate incident, describing the panel’s claim that nine persons were shot dead as “assumptions and speculations.”

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