Amnesty International Nigeria has responded to a leaked government memo indicating plans for a secret mass burial of 103 persons identified as victims of the #EndSARS protests in October 2020. The human rights organization called on Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-Olu, to publish the names of the massacred protesters and conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the killings. This article highlights Amnesty International’s demands for justice and transparency while shedding light on the background of the #EndSARS protests and the subsequent investigations.
Following the leaked government memo addressed to the Lagos State Ministry of Health, which approved over N61 million for the mass burial of 103 victims of the #EndSARS protests, Amnesty International Nigeria expressed deep concern over the secrecy surrounding the situation. Isa Sanusi, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, urgently called on the Nigerian authorities to halt the planned mass burial and instead focus on conducting a comprehensive and independent investigation into the killings. The organization emphasized the importance of holding those suspected to be responsible accountable through fair trials.
Amnesty International also urged the Lagos state government to conduct transparent coroner inquests and autopsies on the 103 #EndSARS victims. Additionally, they demanded that the identities of the victims and the circumstances surrounding their deaths be made public. It is alarming to the organization that the Lagos state government has held the bodies of these victims since October 2020 without disclosing this information.
In light of the #EndSARS protests that began on 8 October 2020, Amnesty International has been closely monitoring developments across Nigeria. Their on-the-ground investigation during the protests confirmed that Nigerian security forces used lethal force against peaceful protesters, resulting in the deaths of at least 12 individuals at the Lekki toll gate and in Alausa. The investigation also revealed that pro-government supporters instigated violence, providing cover for the police to carry out these acts.
On 16 November 2020, a Judicial Panel of Inquiry was established to investigate the Lekki toll gate killings. The panel’s report pointed to the military and police as responsible for killing unarmed protesters peacefully sitting on the floor, waving Nigerian flags, and singing.
Amidst these revelations, Amnesty International calls for the immediate release of all those detained due to their involvement in the #EndSARS protests. They stress the importance of ensuring victims and their families access justice and effective remedies, including adequate compensation.
Amnesty International’s response to the leaked government memo highlights the urgent need for transparency and justice in the #EndSARS victims’ mass burial. The human rights organization calls on the Nigerian authorities to conduct thorough investigations, hold those responsible accountable, and compensate victims’ families. In the pursuit of justice, the victims’ identities must be disclosed, and the circumstances of their deaths made public. The world watches closely as Nigeria addresses the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests to ensure accountability and healing.