One hundred and three people who died in October 2020 during the #EndSARS movement against police violence in Nigeria - and whose bodies at the Lagos morgue have not been claimed - will be buried, local authorities announced on Monday.
This "mass burial" was confirmed by the authorities after the leak on social networks of a document from the Ministry of Health, which revived the painful question of the toll of the repression of a rally in Lagos, which according to the conclusions of a panel of inquiry, was akin to a "massacre" while the authorities continue to affirm that there were no victims.
Anti-government protests took place in October 2020 in major cities across Nigeria to denounce police brutality, a movement dubbed #EndSARS ( "End SARS" ), named after a special police unit accused for years of racketeering, torture and murder.
This movement ended when the army and the police opened fire on October 20, 2020 at the Lekki toll in Lagos, an emblematic gathering place for protesters who waved flags, singing the national anthem.
Many witnesses then claimed that the security forces had killed demonstrators and taken the bodies with them in pick-ups. According to local authorities, the 103 bodies to be buried were not picked up at the Lekki toll, but in other parts of Lagos.
“For the record, the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit (SEHMU) has collected bodies following the #EndSARS violence and communal clashes in Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo and Ajah areas of Lagos State,” according to the authorities statement .
"There was also an escape at Ikoyi prison. The 103 victims mentioned in the document are from these incidents and NOT from the Lekki toll ," it added. These statements by the authorities are, however, the first to recognize such a heavy toll after these demonstrations which then degenerated into riots .
The repeated denial of the deaths of people at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020 has sparked outrage among many young Nigerians who participated in, or supported, these protests and who continue to demand justice.
"They asked us where the bodies are? Yet the bodies were with them from the start" , reacted Sunday evening on Twitter Rinu Oduala, one of the figures of the protest.