BY BRIGHT JACOB
There is confusion over a leaked memo addressed to the Lagos State Ministry of Health indicating that the State Government approved N61,285,000 for the mass burial of 103 persons identified as 2020 EndSARS victims.
The memo dated July 19, 2023, captured steps for the processing of funds after approval by the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Titled ‘Letter Of No Objection. Mass Burial For The 103. The Year 2020 EndSARS Victims’ was addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and signed by the Director General of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Onafowote Fatai Idowu.
The letter reads, “We refer to your letter dated 13 July, 2023 with Ref No: LSMH/G/NS/013-1/23 in respect of the above subject matter.
“Following our review of your letter and the documents attached, we note the following I. Mr. Governor’s Approval II. Minutes of Ministerial Tenders Board III. Meeting Procurement Planning Committee IV. Sign-off
“Following review of your request and based on the information provided therein, the Agency has “No Objection” to the award of contract to MESSRS. TOS FUNERALS LIMITED at a total cost of N61,285,000.00 (Sixty-One Million, Two Hundred and Eighty-Five Thousand Naira) only for the mass burial for the 103, the year 2020 EndSARS victims.
“In view of the above, please note that I. Ensure a quadruplicate copy of the letter of award for MESSRS. TOS FUNERALS LIMITED registered with the PPA within 72 hours.
“II. Ensure the submission of Certificate of Suppliers Registration with PPA in Appropriate class.
“III. Ensure all statutory taxes and deductions are remitted by the supplier.
“IV. The letter of award is to be accompanied with a copy of this letter of “NO- Objection, Certificate of Registration / Renewal with PPA and receipt of payment of Admin fees (0.25%) to be paid before Release of Fund.
“Refer to Head of Service Circular with Reference No: CIR/II05/20/Vol.1/051 dated 15 May, 2020, it is mandated that the 0.25% Admin fee is paid to PPA and 0.5% agreement fee is paid to the Ministry of Justice.
“Service providers should indicate in writing where there is the need for STO/MDA Finance and Accounts to deduct at source or payment directly by the Service Providers before the release of funds.
“Pursuant to Sections 18 (1) (b) and 18(1) (k) of the Lagos State Public Procurement Law 2021), your office is required to keep proper records of this project which shall be subject to Procurement Audit by the Agency after. Please be guided accordingly.”
Earlier, a Ministerial Tenders’ Board Meeting reportedly sat over the recommendations of the Procurement Planning Committee, after which no objections were raised to the award of the mass burial contract to a funeral service provider.
The five-paragraph leaked memo also directed that relevant taxes and deductions are remitted by the approved company.
However, the Lagos State Government, in its response to the memo, maintained that the victims to be buried were not from the Lekki Tollgate shooting.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health confirmed the letter in a statement on Sunday evening, but insisted that details were being misconstrued.
The state argued that the victims were from incidents of violent attacks that occurred in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests.
“There has been controversy over the number of deaths recorded during the EndSARS protest, resulting in the governor setting up an inquest led by Justice Doris Okuwobi.
“Since the protest in 2020, both the Lagos Government and the Federal Government have consistently denied any mass killing during the EndSARS protests.
“The memo is coming over two years after the widespread protest across the country,” the leaked memo read.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Olusegun Ogboye, said the Lagos State Environmental Health Unit picked up bodies in the aftermath of #EndSARS violence and community clashes.
The areas cited included Fagba, Ketu, Ikorodu, Orile, Ajegunle, Abule-Egba, Ikeja, Ojota, Ekoro, Ogba, Isolo and Ajah areas of Lagos State.
Ogboye added that there was also a jailbreak at Ikoyi Prison.
“The 103 casualties mentioned in the document were from these incidents and NOT from Lekki Toll-gate as was alleged. For the avoidance of doubt, nobody was retrieved from the Lekki Toll Gate incident,” the statement read.
Thousands of Nigerians across the country took to the streets to protest police brutality and called for far-reaching reforms, particularly with regard to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the police.
The weeks-long protests, which gained international attention, culminated in the controversial shooting of protesters at the popular Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, one of the rallying points for those who partook in the demonstrations.