Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the mass burial of 103 protesters who lost their lives during the October 2020 #EndSARS mass protest against police brutality, Newspremises has gathered.
These individuals were tragically killed by a combination of Nigerian Army and police forces on October 20, 2020.
The decision to conduct the mass burial was disclosed in a letter dated July 19, as seen by Peoples Gazette, wherein the state government contracted Messrs Tos Funeral Ltd, a private firm, to handle the burial at a total cost of N61,285,000.
It is worth noting that the Governor and his government had previously denied the occurrence of the brutal killings of unarmed protesters who were waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem when they were shot by the military at the Lekki toll gate on the night of October 20, 2020.
In response to the recent decision for the mass burial, Chief Press Secretary Gboyega Akosile stated that the government would provide an official response soon when asked about its reflection on past denials.
Prior to this move, the Lagos state government had called for the identification of missing persons, but many individuals were afraid to come forward due to reports of intimidation and harassment by the panel of inquiry.
This panel’s findings described the incident as a massacre, a finding that Governor Sanwo-Olu had denied in a white paper issued by him.
However, there is a significant amount of evidence contradicting the government’s official stance, including the appointment of former Army chief Turkur Buratai as a diplomatic envoy to the Benin Republic, which some believed was an attempt to shield him from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
The judicial panel also found that the casualty count was exacerbated because the army obstructed ambulances and medical assistance from reaching injured protesters.
Additionally, they accused the army of removing protesters’ bodies from the scene and erasing blood stains to hide evidence and obstruct the investigation.
Professor John Obafunwa, the Chief pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), testified that at least 99 bodies, some bearing bullet wounds, blunt trauma, and bruises, were deposited in morgues across Lagos following the EndSars protests. Three of these bodies were confirmed to be from the toll gate incident.
Furthermore, a CNN video investigation corroborated several eyewitness videos, confirming that the Nigerian Army and police used live bullets to shoot at protesters directly.
Despite Governor Sanwo-Olu’s call for citizens to move on and rebuild, the families of the deceased struggle to find closure in the face of the government’s suppression of the truth.