Lagos State Government Suspends Mass Burial of #EndSARS Protest Victims

Lagos State Government Suspends Mass Burial of #EndSARS Protest Victims

The Lagos State Government has decided to suspend its earlier plan for a mass burial of the 103 corpses recovered in the aftermath of the October 2020 #EndSARS protest. This decision was confirmed by Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, during an exclusive conversation with PUNCH on October 9, 2023. The suspension follows the considerable controversy that arose after the initial announcement in July.

The controversy began when a leaked memo disclosed that the state government had approved a sum of N61,285,000 for the mass burial of these 103 individuals recognized as #EndSARS victims. This memo, dated July 19, 2023, and titled "Letter of No Objection. Mass Burial for the 103, the year 2020 EndSars Victims," surfaced on social media, sparking outrage among Nigerians, human rights activists, and civil society organizations.

Notably, Amnesty International and a group called the Coalition of #EndSARS Protesters and Supporters demanded that the state government halt the planned mass burial. Amnesty International also called for a transparent coroner inquest and autopsies to be carried out on the 103 #EndSARS victims.

In response to these demands, the state government, through Mr. Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, told PUNCH that they would adhere to global best practices in conducting the mass burial.

Providing an update on the matter, Commissioner Omotoso explained that the mass burial plan "remains suspended to give people ample time to identify their relatives that may be among the corpses." He emphasized that the decision to suspend the burial was to allow for more time for identification, as suggested earlier when the government initially revealed its plans.

Omotoso added that the planned burial would proceed at a later date, taking into consideration the controversies surrounding it. This delay aims to provide individuals with the time and opportunity to verify if their relatives are among the deceased.

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