Burying Bodies, Burying Truth

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Nigerian officials are planning mass burials for the more than 100 people who died during the country’s anti-police brutality protests in 2020, an announcement that has revived questions about the exact death toll and calls for a new investigation into the incident, Africanews reported.

Authorities in Lagos, the country’s economic hub, confirmed plans of a “mass burial” of 103 people, saying the bodies were not claimed by anyone. They added that the burials would relieve overcrowding in the morgue.

In 2020, Nigeria was grappling with mass demonstrations against police brutality that became known as the #EndSARS movement. The movement was named after Nigeria’s now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit, which had been accused of racketeering, torture and murder for years.

Thousands of people were demonstrating at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos on Oct. 20 that year when security forces opened fire on protesters. An independent inquiry described the incident as a “massacre,” but authorities have denied there were any victims, according to Voice of America.

Lagos officials confirmed for the first time Monday that the 103 bodies were connected to the city-wide protests, but denied that they were specifically connected to the Lekki toll.

Even so, human rights groups and survivors accused authorities of attempting to cover up the actual number of casualties and called for a new probe on the matter.

Others, meanwhile, allege that the SARS unit was not disbanded and continues to operate in secret.

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