Amnesty International and some activists have challenged the Lagos State government to disclose the identities of the 103 #ENDSARS victims billed for mass burial.
Daily Trust, on Monday, reported that in a letter dated July 19 by the Lagos State Government Public Procurement Agency titled: Letter of No Objection – Mass Burial for the 103, the Year 2020 ENDSARS victims, the state government engaged the service of a private firm, Messrs Tos Funeral Ltd, at the cost of N61,285,000 to bury 103 victims of the protest.
“Following review of your request and based on the information provided therein, the agency has “No Objection” to the award of contract to MESSRS TOS FUNERALS 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 2020 Endsars victims,” noted the Director- General of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Mr Onafowote Idowu in the letter addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health.
Provide Identities of victims
Responding to the leaked document, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, said the Nigerian authorities must urgently halt the plans to carry out a secret mass burial of the victims.
It demanded a thorough and independent investigation into the killings and ensure that those suspected to be responsible were brought to justice in fair trials.
“They must also carry out transparent coroner inquests and autopsies on the 103 #EndSARS victims and publish their identities and the circumstances of their deaths,” Sanusi.
Sanusi, who said it was appalling that the state government had never mentioned that it had held the bodies of 103 EndSARS victims in its custody since October 2020, called for the release of protesters who are still in detention.
“Nigerian authorities must also ensure that victims and their families are provided with access to justice and effective remedies, including adequate compensation,” he added.
AI noted that during an on-the-ground investigation in 2020, it confirmed that security forces opened fire on thousands of peaceful protesters, who were peacefully calling for good governance and an end to police brutality, killing at least 12 protesters at Lekki toll gate and in Alausa.
It added that the group established that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.
A prominent ENDSARS promoter, Akin Olaoye, in an interview with a national TV, said it was disheartening that 103 Nigerians killed and left in morgues for almost three years were billed for mass burial.
While faulting the claims by the government that relatives didn’t show up to claim the bodies, Akin, whose group maintained one of the safe houses for ENDSARS victims, said the group presented some of the relatives at the judicial panel which admitted that there was a massacre at Lekki Toll gate when members of the Nigerian Army on October 20, 2020 opened fire on unarmed protesters.
He said the government should seek truth and reconciliation instead of asking people ‘to snap out’ of the unfortunate incident.
We’ve not received approval for mass burial yet – Funeral firm
Daily Trust also learnt that no date has been fixed for the burial as the funeral firm, TOS Funerals Limited, said it had yet to receive approval from the government to carry out the mass burial.
A staff of the firm who identified himself as Dele in an interview with Daily Trust, said, the firm has not received the letter which was leaked on social media.
“We have not received it. So we can’t speak about it because we don’t have the letter. There is no approval yet,” he said.