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“They paid journalists to gaslight us” – Read Reactions as Lagos confirms mass burial for 103 #EndSARS victims after leaked document

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The Lagos state government says the bodies of 103 victims of #EndSARS protest in 2020 prepared for mass burial were not from the Lekki tollgate.

The state government, in a statement released on Sunday, said no dead body was retrieved from the Lekki toll gate as a result of the protest.

The statement was signed by Olusegun Ogboye, permanent secretary, Lagos ministry of health.

On Sunday, a letter indicating that the Lagos state government has approved the sum of N61,285,000 for the “mass burial” of 103 people who died during the 2020 #EndSARS protests in the state, went viral on social media.

The details of the contract approval were contained in a letter of no objection signed by Onafowote Idowu, director-general of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency.

The contract was awarded to Messers TOS Funeral Limited.

The letter, dated July 19, 2023, was addressed to the permanent secretary of the Lagos ministry of health.

“Following review of your request and based on the information provided therein, the agency had “no objection” to the award of contract to Messrs TOS Funeral Limited at a total cost of N61,285,000 (sixty-one million, two hundred and eighty-five thousand naira) only for the mass burial for the 103, the year of 2020 EndSARS victims,” the letter reads.

The development is coming two years and nine months after the 2020 #EndSARS protest took place.

The leaked letter elicited varied reactions on social media aNd nigerians are reacting on social media.

In the statement, the Lagos government confirmed the move to conduct a “mass burial” for 103 bodies recovered during the protest, saying that the bodies have remained unclaimed almost three years later.

The state government said the corpses were retrieved from many parts of the state, including Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo and Ajah.

The state government added that one of the cases of violent attacks that happened during the #EndSARS protest was the jailbreak at Ikoyi prison.

“For the records, the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit 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,” the statement reads.

“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.

“In the aftermath of the #EndSARS violence, the office of the chief coroner invited members of the public through public adverts and announcements (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.”

On June 6, 2021, John Obafunwa, consultant pathologist to the state government, told the #EndSARS judicial panel that out of a total of 99 bodies examined for autopsy after the protest, three were from Lekki.

Obafunwa said the remaining bodies were received from other parts of the state, including Surulere, Ikorodu, Ajah, and Fagba, among others.

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