The Lagos State government has dismissed rumors of a purported mass burial plan for casualties of the 2020 #EndSARS incident, labeling it as the work of mischief makers seeking to mislead the public. Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, addressed the issue in a statement, urging the public to disregard the false reports circulating on social media.
The statement clarified that the misinterpretation and sensationalization of a letter from the Lagos State Government Public Procurement Agency led to the misinformation. The letter in question, entitled “Letter of No Objection: Mass Burial for the 103, the Year 2020 #EndSARS victims,” was taken out of context to create confusion and disaffection against the Lagos State Government.
The #EndSARS protests, which took place in 2020, resulted in casualties in various parts of Lagos, not just at the Lekki toll gate as some have implied. The Lagos State Environmental Health Unit (SEHMU) handled bodies from areas including Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo, and Ajah. Additionally, there was a jailbreak at Ikoyi Prison during the same period.
The 103 casualties mentioned in the document were from these incidents and not specifically from the Lekki toll gate. It is important to clarify that no bodies were retrieved from the Lekki toll gate incident.
The Lagos State Government emphasized that during the #EndSARS panel proceedings, the Lagos State chief pathologist submitted records of unclaimed bodies of those who had died during the period surrounding the Lekki toll gate events. The panel reviewed these records, including the autopsies and causes of death, but no findings were linked to the Lekki incident.
After the violence subsided, the office of the Chief Coroner invited the public, through advertisements and media announcements, to come forward if they had lost loved ones or had relatives declared missing between October 19 and 27, 2020, due to clashes in various areas mentioned earlier. The aim was to identify the casualties deposited in state-owned morgues by undergoing DNA tests. However, no relatives came forward to claim any of the bodies.
As a result, after nearly three years, the bodies remain unclaimed, contributing to the congestion of morgues. The government explained that a procedure to decongest the morgues followed strict medical and legal guidelines in case a relative surfaced to claim a lost loved one years after the incident.
The Lagos State Government appealed to individuals spreading rumors on social media to consider the emotions of the families involved and grant them the closure they deserve. It urged the public to refrain from circulating false information and to respect the memory of those who lost their lives during the #EndSARS protests.