The Government of Lagos state, Nigeria’s commercial capital has said none of the 103 bodies approved for mass burial were recovered from the Lekki tollgate in October 2020 during the #Endsars protest against police brutality.
In a Press Release, the state government responded to a letter which has now gone viral dated 19 July. The letter was from the public procurement agency.
It revealed that 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 tagged as “Endsars victims.”
But on Sunday evening, Olusegun Ogboye, the permanent secretary of the state ministry of health, put out a statement to shed light on the bodies.
Many had alleged that the bodies scheduled for mass burial were of protesters killed by the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Tollgate on 20 October 2020.
Below is the Press Release from the state.
LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
RE: MASS BURIAL OF ENDSARS VICTIMS (MISCHIEF MAKERS AT WORK).
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 sensationalizing 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.
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. 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, no body was retrieved from the Lekki Toll Gate incident.
Contrary to disingenuous 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 state central morgue during the days immediately preceding and following the event at Lekki tollgate on 20/10/20.
The list with their autopsies of provable cause and circumstances of death were 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.
In the aftermath of the #EndSARS violence, the office of the Chief Coroner invited members of the public through public adverts and announcement (November 18,2020, Punch and November 19,2020 THISDAY) 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. 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 Government, therefore, appeals to social media rumour mongers to please allow the hapless families of the unclaimed loved ones a deserved closure.
Dr Olusegun Ogboye
Ministry of Health
July 23, 2023.