June 13, 2024

Over 100 protesters lost their lives during the October 2020 mass protest known as #EndSARS, where they were brutally killed by a combined force of the Nigerian Army and the police. The state government has now taken the step of engaging a private firm called Messrs Tos Funeral Ltd, at a cost of N61,285,000, to bury the 103 identified victims of these killings.

This action comes almost three years after Governor Sanwo-Olu and his government initially denied the occurrence of the violent killings of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020. The government had previously rejected the findings of the Lagos State’s judicial panel of inquiry, which had described the incident as a massacre and pointed out the unwarranted use of force against peaceful demonstrators.

Despite overwhelming evidence and various government decisions indicating the occurrence of the massacre, the state government continues to deny the events as officially stated. The appointment of a former Army chief as a diplomatic envoy to the Benin Republic was seen by many as an attempt to shield him from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The judicial panel also revealed that the casualties could have been mitigated if the army had allowed ambulances and medical assistance to reach injured protesters. Furthermore, the army’s actions of removing corpses and cleaning the scene hindered the panel’s investigation.

Several pieces of evidence, including video investigations by CNN, have confirmed that the Nigerian Army and police indeed used live bullets to shoot directly at protesters. Despite the government’s call to move on and rebuild, the families of those who lost their lives still struggle to find closure due to the government’s suppression of the truth.

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