Lagos State Government under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has confirmed that it approved the sum of ₦61 million, two hundred and eighty five thousand for the mass burial of people killed during the 2020 ENDSARS protest in the state.
Lagos State Government in a follow up and clarification press release on Sunday signed by the Permanent Secretary, the state Ministry of Health, Olusegun Ogboye said none of the 103 dead bodies was killed during the ENDSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Gate where it is widely believed that a large number of the protesters were shot dead by men of the Nigerian Army who were called in to scare the protesters away and enforce the 24 hours curfew put in place by the government.
The Lagos State Government through the Director General in charge of the State Public Procurements Agency, Onafowote Fatai Idowu had addressed a letter of No Objection to the permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, asking the ministry to pay the sum of ₦61,285,000 to Messrs Tosi Funeral limited to enable the contracted funeral service provider carry a mass burial of 103 people killed during the 2020 ENDSARS protest in Lagos State.
Onafowote Fatai Idowu in the letter didn’t state the location the 103 persons were killed during the ENDSARS protest. The Lagos State Government also said it advertised calling on the general public to contact the state pathology department of the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, LASUTH to see the dead bodies for possible identification of their missing loved ones.
The Onafowote Fatai Idowu letter reawake the consciousness of many Nigerians who took to social media to express beliefs that the Lagos State Government, Nigerian Army and the Federal Government conspired to lie and cover up the killing of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate during the 2020 ENDSARS protest.
Following the new outcry for justice for the people allegedly killed during the ENDSARS protest by Nigerian Army, Olusegun Ogboye, the Permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health in a statement on Sunday, said the 103 dead bodies were picked up at different locations by the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit, SEHMU, 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. Adding, the 103 casualties mentioned in the document were from the incidents and not from Lekki Toll-gate as being alleged.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health statement reads in quote below:
“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.
“While the Lagos State Government would not have dignified the mischievous elements peddling such news with a response, we consider it appropriate to set the records straight and draw the attention of well-meaning citizens to the antics of some unscrupulous elements who are hell bent on disrupting the peace and tranquility of Lagos with distorted news and half-truth about the PPA letter.
“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, 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, no body was retrieved from the Lekki Toll Gate incident.
“In the aftermath of the EndSARS violence, the office of the Chief Coroner invited members of the public Throughout public adverts and announcement 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.
“Decongestion of our public morgues is a periodic and regular exercise approved by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to free up space in mortuaries that have a large number of unclaimed bodies”.