The Lagos State Government has officially confirmed its plans to hold a mass burial for the 103 victims of the 2020 ENDSARS protests.
The decision comes almost three years after the tragic events that shook the nation, leaving families shattered and the entire country in grief.
The letter of confirmation, dated July 19, 2023, was issued by the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency and marks a significant step towards bringing closure to the harrowing chapter in the nation’s history.
The ENDSARS protest of 2020 were a series of peaceful demonstration against police brutality and extrajudicial killings, with the Lekki toll gate becoming a focal point for protesters.
On October 20, 2020, the toll gate witnessed a horrifying incident where soldiers and the police allegedly opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, leading to an unspecified number of casualties.
The details of that night have remained shrouded in controversy and have been a subject of intense public debate.
In response to mounting pressure from the victims’ families, human rights groups, and concerned citizens, the Lagos State Government has taken the initiative to honor the memories of those who lost their lives during the protests.
The letter of no objection, addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed that the contract for the mass burial has been awarded to TOS Funerals Limited at a cost of N61,285,000.00 (Sixty-One Million, Two Hundred and Eighty-Five Thousand Naira) only.
The letter further outlined the necessary steps to ensure a smooth and transparent process for the mass burial.
It directed the Ministry of Health to ensure TOS Funerals Limited registers with the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency (PPA) within 72 hours and submits all required documentation, including a Certificate of Suppliers Registration and evidence of payment of administrative fees.
The Lagos State Government has been adamant about following due process, as stated in the letter.
This move aims to address any concerns about the transparency and integrity of the burial arrangements, given the sensitivity surrounding the events of 2020.
The announcement of the mass burial has caused a stir on social media with Nigerians demanding justice.
In October 2020, young people took to the streets, major roads, and social media to protest against police brutality and profiling.
They demanded the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) due to allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.
During the protests, five key demands were presented to the federal government:
- Immediate release of all detained protesters.
- Justice for victims of police brutality and adequate compensation for their families.
- Establishment of an independent body to investigate and prosecute reported cases of police misconduct within 10 days.
- Psychological evaluation and proper screening of disbanded SARS operatives before redeployment, overseen by an independent body.
- Increased salaries and better compensation for the police force for their role in safeguarding citizens and property.
While the government disbanded SARS in response to the protests, instances of police brutality continued to be reported in various states.
The protests turned tragic when heavily armed soldiers unleashed violence, leading to casualties and injuries among peaceful demonstrators.
The ENDSARS judicial panels were subsequently established in different states to investigate incidents of police brutality, particularly the shooting at the Lekki tollgate.
The findings of the ENDSARS judicial panel in Lagos revealed a massacre at the tollgate.
The tollgate incident resulted in 48 casualties, with nine people losing their lives, and others sustaining life-threatening injuries.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was implicated in inviting the army to the shooting scene.