Mass burial: Amnesty International asks Lagos govt to disclose identity of 103 #EndSARS victims

AMNESTY International (AI) has asked the Lagos State government to halt its plans to conduct a mass burial for 103 victims of the #EndSARS protests.

The human rights watchdog said the state government should first release the identity of the victims.

Amnesty International is also insisting that the state government should carry out a thorough investigation that would reveal those responsible for the death of the 103 #EndSARS protesters.

The ICIR earlier reported that the state government confirmed that preparations for the mass burial of 103 #EndSARS victims was ongoing. 

After a leaked memo, dated July 19, 2023, which captured steps for processing funds for the burial after approval by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, surfaced on the social media, the state government disclosed that it was set to bury 103 #EndSARS victims. But it maintained that the corpses being prepared for mass burial were not connected to the alleged massacre of protesters at the Lekki tollgate.

Reacting to the development, Amnesty International asked for a coroner inquest for the 103 victims, along with the disclosure of their identity and the circumstances surrounding their death.

“They must also carry out transparent coroner inquests and autopsies on the 103 #EndSARS victims and publish their identities and the circumstances of their deaths,” Isa Sanusi, Nigeria director of Amnesty International, said in a statement released on Monday, July 24.

He also asked that “those detained because of their role in the #EndSARS protests must be immediately released”.

“The Nigerian authorities must also ensure that victims and their families are provided with access to justice and effective remedies, including adequate compensation.”

Sanuso said the organisation has been monitoring developments across Nigeria since the #EndSARS protests began on October 8, 2020.

Despite repeated denials by the Nigerian government, as well as the Army and the Lagos State government, Sanusi insisted that protesters were shot and killed at Lekki tollgate during the #EndSARS protest.

“In October 2020, an on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International confirmed that Nigerian security forces opened fire on thousands of peaceful protesters, who were peacefully calling for good governance and an end to police brutality, killing at least 12 protesters at Lekki toll gate and in Alausa. 

“Amnesty International was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.”

However, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Information, Gbenga Omotosho, has faulted the investigation carried out by Amnesty International, saying it was not objective.

Speaking to Arise News on Tuesday, July 25, he said, “In this matter, Amnesty International is not the Amnesty International that I used to know. They are not objective. They are not backing whatever they are saying with any scientific evidence or reasoning.

“Amnesty International itself – the one I used to know – could do this investigation and come out with the truth. But, I suspect that they have been perforated by external forces.”

    However, the findings of the Lagos State Judicial Panel on #EndSARS indicted the Nigerian Army for the massacre at Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020.

    In a report submitted by the panel to the Lagos Government, the panel listed 48 names as casualties of the Lekki incident. 

    Among the 48 casualties listed, 24 sustained gunshot injuries, while soldiers and police assaulted 15 others.

    The panel’s report noted that nine protesters were confirmed dead, while four others were presumed dead.

    Beloved John is an investigative reporter with International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

    You can reach her via: [email protected]

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