Onozure Dania and Gbenga Oloniniran
Counsel for some #EndSARS protesters, Mr Adesina Ogunlana, has questioned the N61m budgeted by the Lagos State Government for the mass burial of 103 corpses recovered in the wake of the October 2020 #EndSARS protest.
The state government had on Sunday confirmed the authenticity of a leaked letter indicating planned mass burial for 103 corpses.
The letter, dated July 19, 2023, emanated from the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency and was addressed to the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
The letter, signed by the Director-General of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Mr Onafowote Idowu, revealed the approval of the sum of N61,285,000 for the mass burial of 103 corpses.
But Ogunlana, who represented some #EndSARS protesters who claimed to have either been shot or witnessed soldiers shooting protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020, expressed dismay at the sum budgeted to give mass burial to unclaimed bodies.
The activist-lawyer said, “My concern is not about the people that died but the fact that somebody is saying he wants to carry out a mass burial with N61m – the mass burial of unidentified bodies, of degraded bodies that died about two years ago, roughly about 20 or 19 months ago.
“You want to use N61m for mass burial! It should not even be up to N1m. Is it not just digging a big grave and putting the bodies there? That shows you the exploitation of the ruling class that we have, who are telling the people to bear the pain and to bear with the government.”
Ogunlana, however, said he would not dispute the explanation by the Lagos State Government that none of the 103 corpses was recovered from Lekki tollgate.
“I am not going to lump it together, I will differentiate and say no we have been vindicated that people died at Lekki tollgate but not anything with 103, there was no evidence like that at the panel. But people died and there was a massacre even if it was only one person,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Gboyega Akosile, said the government ran a very efficient and effective financial structure and things followed due process.
Akosile said, “Lagos State is a very responsible government. We run a very efficient and effective financial structure. Everything passes through the procurement process. Things are based on market value. Does he (the lawyer) have the contractual agreement between the contractors and the Lagos government? Does he know the nitty-gritty? If you do not have the XYZ of a contract, you cannot determine if money earmarked is too high or too low, otherwise everything you’re saying will just amount to wanting to talk.
“He should stick to his representation in the #EndSARS and not bother dabbling into what he does not have knowledge about.”