Lagos State government has said victims of the 2020 #EndSARS protest being prepared for mass burial were not from the controversial Lekki Tollgate shooting incident on October 20, 2020.
The Permanent Secretary, State Ministry of Health, Olusegun Ogboye, stated this on Sunday in response to a leaked memo revealing its approval of N61,285,000 for the mass burial of 103 EndSARS victims.
The memo, dated July 19, 2023, captured steps for the processing of funds after approval by Governor Babajide Sanwoolu. However, it sparked public outrage as it was alleged that the victims were from Lekki Tollgate massacre.
According to Ogboye, 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.
While maintaining that no corpse was retrieved from the Lekki Toll Gate incident, he said the bodies for mass burial have been unclaimed for three years, congesting the morgues.
He 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.
“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 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.”
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