The Lagos state administration has responded to claims that it has authorised N61 million for the mass burial of victims found during the EndSARS demonstration on October 20, 2020.
Earlier today, July 23, a letter from the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency to the state Ministry of Health approving the funding for the mass burial circulated on social media. When the state administration stated no one died at the Lekki toll-gate during the crisis after the military assaulted the toll-gate to disperse the demonstrators, some Nigerians criticised the state government for authorising the funds.
The state administration responded to the criticism by claiming in a statement that the remains to be buried were not taken from the Lekki toll gate but rather were taken from other areas of the state. According to the state administration, there were no fatalities at the Lekki toll gate. The full statement says;
‘’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 tranquillity 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 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 alleged. For the avoidance of doubt, nobody 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 Through 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. 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.