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At last, Lagos Govt. finally admits killing of 103 persons in 2020 #EndSars protests

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In spite of denials by the federal and the Lagos State Government, the truth has come to the fore as the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration finally confirmed that 103 persons were killed during the #EndSars protests of 2020 in the state.

Although Lagos government denied that the fatalities were not from Lekki Toll Plaza where soldiers allegedly shot at protesters on November 20, 2020, it, however, said the casualties were recorded in different parts of the state and NOT from the Lekki Toll Gate.

Persecondnews reports that the deaths of the103 persons were confirmed when the state government gave approval for their mass burial at a cost N61.2 million.

The approval for mass burial was contained in a letter titled, “No Objection – Mass Burial for the 103, the Year 2020 ENDSARS victims dated July 19, 2023 and addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health.

This approval put paid to earlier claims by the Lagos State government, Nigerian Army and police that no one died in the protests.

Public outrage and condemnation had greeted the invasion by soldiers of Lekki toll plaza, venue of the sustained weeks of protests and firing of live bullets on harmless youths including women.

All efforts to ascertain the number of those killed and injured as a result of the army’s action were frustrated by the Lagos State government under Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the leadership of the Nigeria Army through persistent denials and manipulations.

However, the letter written by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and sent to the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency requesting for N61.2 million for the burial of the 103 victims of the Endsars protests has exposed all.

The Permanent Secretary in the letter dated July 13 said that the contract for the mass burial of the victims will be awarded to Messrs TOS Funerals Limited at a cost N61.2 million.

Mr Onafowote Fatai Idowu, the Director-General of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency in his reply via a letter dated July 19 gave the Ministry of Health the go-ahead to conduct mass burial for the 103 victims.

He stated clearly that there is “no objection” to the request to give the 103 victims a mass burial and award of N61.2 million contract to Messrs TOS Funerals Limited to carry out the burial for the victims.

Onafowote, however, insisted that the contractor followed the due process.

However, a statement by Dr Olusegun Ogboye, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health released on Sunday, July 23 and obtained by Persecondnews, said: 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.”

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