Leaked Mass Burial Memo for ENDSARS Protesters Triggers Fresh Outrage

Leaked Mass Burial Memo for ENDSARS Protesters Triggers Fresh Outrage

A leaked memo for proposed mass burial for 103 persons killed during the ENDSARS protests has triggered an outrage against the Lagos state governor leading to a recall of his statement that nobody was killed at the Lekki toll gate but the state government has insisted that the corpses were not from the toll gate.

A leaked memo for proposed mass burial for 103 persons killed during the ENDSARS protests has triggered an outrage against the Lagos state governor leading to a recall of his statement that nobody was killed at the Lekki toll gate but the state government has insisted that the corpses were not from the toll gate.

The controversial leaked memo, dated July 19th, 2023, was written by the office of the Lagos State Procurement Agency and revealed that the state government had contracted the project of mass burial of the 103 victims to Messrs. Tos Funeral Ltd., a private firm. The government plans to spend N61 million on the mass burial for people identified as ENDSARS victims,

The memo has met with criticisms and accusations that the mass burial is for protesters killed at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State. It rekindled the allegation of a cover-up by the government and Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state.

The Justice Doris Okuwobi’s judicial panel, appointed by the state government in the wake of the ENDSARS protest, disregarded the government’s explanation in its report and established that the Nigerian military killed dozens of protesters at Lekki Toll Gate.

Responding to public anger triggered by the memo, which has not been denied, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Ministry of Health, explained that the scheduled mass burial is not for the bodies recovered from Lekki Toll Gate, adding that they were recovered from other parts of the state.

According to Dr. Ogboye, some people spreading false information with the intention of inciting the public against the government purposefully misinterpreted the letter the state government’s office of procurement agency sent.

The public official further explained that the state environmental unit had recovered the bodies of victims of the ENDSARS violence across Lagos, noting that following the incidents, the government announced to the public that the families of the affected persons could claim their bodies.

He stated that after years of waiting without claiming, the government has deemed it appropriate to decongest the morgues after following a procedure that follows very strict medical and legal guidelines in the event that a relative may claim a lost relative years after the incident.

The full statement reads: “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 announcements (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”.

ENDSARS Lawyer Disagrees With Government, Says Government Clever By Half

However, the lead counsel to the ENDSARS Petitioner, Mr Adeshina Ogunlana (SAN), while speaking on Channels Television today decried the government’s stance on the leaked memo to schedule a mass burial for the 103 casualties during the protests

He accused the government of not telling the entire truth to the public, insisting that even though the 103 bodies might have been recovered from Lekki Toll Gate, some of the victims were found at the location.

“Government is being clever by half, and they are not telling the absolute truth. Yes, I agree with the position that the 103 bodies were said, not all of them were picked up from Lekki toll gate and its environs.

“To use the word the pathologist used at the panel, that is professor Obafunwa, he said bodies were scavenged, and corpses were picked from different places. But around the area of Lekki Toll Gate, there were corpses too, some of them were dumped at the General Hospital, Lagos Island and all that”, he said.

“For the government now to be saying oh no there is no named citizen, the question I want to ask them is this, even the 103 corpses that they want to dispose of, do they have any names? There was no name.

“The bodies that were taken around the environment of Lekki toll gate when Baba Fafunwa was speaking, he at least identified three that were perforated with missiles,”

“People saying that the 103 is proof that actually 103 people were killed at the Lekki toll gate is a very grave error, and I will not join anybody saying that.

“But to say that there was no body recovered in the environs of the Lekki toll gate incident of 2020 is completely wrong,”

In addition, Mr Ogunlana accused the state government of profiting from human lives lost by approving N61 million to bury the degraded bodies in a mass grave.“Even now, the system of government that we have in Lagos State and by extension Nigeria, is showing that they want to profit by the cruel loss of lives.

“How could you say that you have approved N61 million to bury 103 degraded bodies in a mass grave? People that are unidentified, people that nobody came up to claim and all that, I mean, that is horrendous,”

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