Another panel of inquiry, a distraction – Lagos APC spokesman

The Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, Seye Oladejo, tells DANIEL AYANTOYE that the opposition is playing politics with the planned mass burial of 103 #EndSARS protest victims

 The leaked document and subsequent announcement of the proposed mass burial for 103 #EndSARS victims came as a shock to many Lagosians. Is your party not concerned about the development?

As a party, we are standing by the position of the government. Fact states that from time to time, there are dead bodies in different parts of the state; some are even abandoned in the morgue. So, the government, through the Ministry of Health, after due process decided to decongest the affected morgues after making announcements to members of the public. So, I wonder why people are trying to sensationalise this unnecessarily.

I think the opposition should wake up and realise that the electioneering periods are over and it is time for governance. They should realise that all the efforts made in the past to call a dog a bad name to hang it have failed and the people of the state have made their choice and preference for governance. I think we should all join hands and make good contributions to move our state forward. The issue is nothing to worry about. All the utterances against the government are unnecessary and they are mere distractions.

 Amnesty International and the PDP have asked that the plans for the burial be suspended and an independent investigation into the death of the 103 persons should be carried out. How do you react to this?

Well, let them bring their reasons forward; we are a listening government and we listen to people who want to come up with reasons to consider the government’s position on any policy, and when such a policy is not unduly politicised, the government will look at it and consider it with a better judgment that will serve the interest of the majority of Lagosians.

How will you react to the position of the PDP which insisted that an independent investigation to review the death of those 103 persons should be carried out?

Unfortunately, we will not allow the opposition to dictate to us as a party and as a government. They had their opportunity and the people of the state made their choice by alluding to the competence and the capacity of the people at the helm of affairs. We had a panel of inquiry into all the insinuations. So, it is an unnecessary distraction and a suggestion borne out of bad blood. I am not too sure that will serve any purpose.

But they said autopsies on the victims should also be carried out, and their identities and circumstance of death should be made public. Were there any of such before the decision for mass burial?

I saw the press release by the state government explaining the details behind the decision and I believe members of the public must have been duly informed about it. So, those who at one point or the other had missing relatives would have done the needful to check on these bodies and now that people are raising dust about it, it allows them to also go and check out those bodies. It is unnecessary politics which I think the new government will not need at this time.

Does that mean we should say it is not out of place if people can be invited to check on the corpses for proper identification?

First and foremost, the purpose of announcing that there will be a mass burial is a tip-off to members of the public who feel that their relatives are missing and may be among those bodies. There are also bodies that people took to the morgue and abandoned. Maybe they couldn’t afford the burial cost or were picked up on the streets by local government officials; there are such victims that might have been killed by hit-and-run drivers. Whoever had such bodies to claim can as well visit the various morgues and the government will be more than willing to listen.

There are concerns that there were no full details of the mass burial budget of N61.2m. Do you think the details will be released any time before the burial?

I think officials of the government are available to carry out such a burial. The Ministry of Information will be available to answer whatever inquiries they have and you will also agree with me that it is not the first time that such a mass burial will be held. So, I just wonder what the noise about this is about. If they are interested in details, they can as well approach the ministry or government agencies that can avail them of such information.

But there are claims that there is a connection between the alleged Lekki toll gate massacre and the 103 corpses. Don’t you think this should raise a concern?

I don’t think so. I think people are deliberately mismanaging the information. Do you think people will have missing relatives and there won’t be any uproar? Do you think that the government is so mighty to shut out people who lost their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children, especially in these days of social media and there will be no uproar from anywhere? It is impossible.

But why did the government that earlier denied that no one died during the Lekki toll gate, release a list of people that died during the #EndSARS now about three years after the incident?

The government said bodies were picked up in various parts of the state and didn’t say Lekki toll gate. That inquiry was about the Lekki toll gate and as we speak today, there could still be some bodies in different parts of Lagos that are waiting to be picked up. Are you saying in these three years, those who claimed they had lost people will just be keeping quiet and nobody is saying anything, nobody is going to court and nobody is putting anything on the social media space? You know that is not realistic at this time and age.

With the current economic hardship, there is apprehension in the state. What steps should be taken to assist Lagosians?

This is a new government that has shown deliberate intention to do well. They have shown the desire to do well but they can’t do it alone; they need the cooperation of all and sundry. We should be mindful of the agenda of these people who will not sell out the agenda promised during the election waiting to look for loopholes to cause unrest in the state. I can assure you that our government does not lack the political will to handle the situation according to the dictates of the law of the land.

So, nothing should heat up the polity. The state will do well being governed by law and order. If there are grievances, I think we should follow the right process and our party is not unmindful of the challenge of the economic situation. All these are being addressed at the highest position in government and we are going to see the palliatives and other efforts to cushion the effect and that shouldn’t be a reason to cause unnecessary trouble in the land.

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