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Lagos Authorities to Hold Mass Burial for 103 Unclaimed Victims of #EndSARS Movement in Nigeria
In Nigeria, Lagos authorities announce a mass burial for 103 unclaimed victims who lost their lives during the #EndSARS movement against police violence in October 2020.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health has announced plans for a mass burial of 103 individuals who lost their lives during the #EndSARS movement against police violence in October 2020. These victims, whose bodies remain unclaimed at the Lagos morgue, will be laid to rest following careful medical and legal guidelines to decongest the morgues, as revealed in a statement issued on Monday.
Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, clarified that the victims mentioned in the document were not solely from the Lekki Toll Gate incident, as inaccurately reported in certain social media publications. Instead, they were casualties of the violence that erupted in various parts of Lagos during the protests.
In a letter dated July 19, 2023, and addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, the Director General of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Mr. Onafowote Fatai Idowu, disclosed that the state government had engaged the services of Messrs Tos Funeral Ltd, a private firm to carry out the burial.
The decision for a mass burial was prompted by the absence of any claims made for the bodies by their relatives, even after the Chief Coroner's public appeal to identify and retrieve the bodies of their loved ones lost between October 19th and 27th, 2020. The bodies have remained unclaimed for nearly three years, leading to the need for decongestion in the morgues.
The #EndSARS movement, which sought to denounce police brutality in Nigeria, took place in major cities across the country. The movement gained momentum after years of accusations against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for engaging in racketeering, torture, and murder.
The situation escalated when the army and police opened fire on protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020. While authorities have denied the occurrence of any casualties, a leaked document from the Ministry of Health revived questions about the toll of the repression of the rally in Lagos, which a panel of inquiry likened to a "massacre."
In response to the authorities' repeated denials of deaths at the Lekki Toll Gate, many young Nigerians who participated in or supported the protests continue to demand justice. The proposed mass burial aims to provide closure to these victims and their families, addressing a painful chapter in Nigeria's history.
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