The Lagos State Government has halted its proposed mass burial of the 103 bodies recovered after the October 2020 #EndSARS protests.
According to Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, this decision was made due to the controversy stirred by the announcement made in July.
A leaked memo dated July 19, 2023, revealed the state government’s intention to conduct a mass burial for these 103 bodies, causing considerable concern among human rights activists and civil society organizations.
Both Amnesty International and the Coalition of #EndSARS Protesters and Supporters urged the state government to suspend the mass burial and also emphasized the importance of conducting transparent coroner inquests and autopsies on the victims.
In response to these demands, the state government, through Mr Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, assured that they would adhere to global best practices in conducting the mass burial.
As of now, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy stated that the planned mass burial remains suspended to provide ample time for people to identify their relatives among the corpses.
Omotoso explained that despite the extended period, no one has come forward to identify any of the bodies. However, the government is granting additional time for identification purposes.
- “It is to allow more time for identification as suggested when it was disclosed that the government was planning a mass burial for them,” Omotoso said.
He stated further that
- “Up till now, nobody has shown up to identify any of the corpses. But the government has decided to give people more time.”
He assured that the mass burial would eventually take place, but it was initially postponed due to the controversies surrounding the matter.
The government aims to allow people sufficient opportunity to ascertain if their relatives are among the deceased.
When news of the leaked memo regarding an N61,285,000 allocation for the mass burial surfaced, the internet buzzed with reactions, as reported by NewsTimes.
To address the situation, the Lagos State Government clarified that the 103 victims were not related to the controversial Lekki Tollgate shooting but hailed from various areas of Lagos, including Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo, and Ajah.
Dr Ogboye, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, emphasized the move’s purpose was to decongest morgues that had held the bodies for nearly three years, aligning with medical and legal protocols.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu approved this routine procedure to create space, though it has stirred dissatisfaction among Nigerians on social media.