A leaked memo addressed to the Lagos State Ministry of Health indicating that the State Government approved N61,285,000 for the mass burial of 103 persons identified as 2020 EndSARS victims has gone viral on social media, sparking outrage.
The memo dated July 19, 2023, captures steps for the processing of funds after approval by the governor.
Earlier, a Ministerial Tenders’ Board Meeting reportedly sat over the recommendations of the Procurement Planning Committee, after which no objections were raised to the award of the mass burial contract to a funeral service provider.
The five-paragraph leaked memo also directs that relevant taxes and deductions are remitted by the approved company.
In response, the Lagos State Ministry of Health confirmed the letter in a statement on Sunday evening, but insisted that details were being misconstrued.
The state government argued that the victims were from incidents of violence that occurred in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests.
There has been controversy over the number of deaths recorded during the EndSARS protest, resulting in the governor setting up an inquest led by Justice Doris Okuwobi.
Since the protest in 2020, both the Lagos Government and the Federal Government have consistently denied any mass killing during the EndSARS protests.
The memo is coming over two years after the widespread protest across the country. The Lagos Government has yet to comment on the leaked memo.
Thousands of Nigerians across the country took to the streets to protest police brutality and called for far-reaching reforms, particularly with regard to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police.
The weeks-long protests, which gained international attention, culminated in the controversial shooting of protesters at the popular Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, one of the rallying points for those who partook in the demonstrations.
However, the Lagos State Government, in its response to the memo, maintained that the victims to be buried were not from the Lekki Tollgate shooting.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusegun Ogboye, said the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit (SEHMU) picked up bodies in the aftermath of #EndSARS violence and community clashes.
The areas cited included Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo and Ajah areas of Lagos State. Ogboye added that 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,” the statement read.