*Decry flagrant breach of social distancing rule by government officials
By Augustine Osayande, PhD
Civil Rights Advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has asked the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to trace and place on quarantine for 14 days everyone of the mammoth crowd that witnessed the last funeral rites carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health for the departed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari Alhaji Abba Kyari.
Kyari passed on Saturday being April 17th, 2020 as announced by the Special Adviser on media and publicity to the President Mr. Femi Adesina.
HURIWA in a Statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said that the same government official in the person of the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the President Garba Shehu who announced that the burial of the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari would be solemn and strictly private was sighted on a live television broadcast of the burial in Gudu Abuja which was a carnival atmosphere even as the hundreds of mourners who turned up failed to observe the SOCIAL DISTANCING RULE with some of these persons not seen putting on their face masks appropriately. HURIWA carpeted also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who was also at the Defence House in Maitama with a lot of mourners who turned up to accompany the remains to the final resting place.
HURIWA stated as follows: ” Whilst we joined the rest of the Country to send our condolences to the bereaved family members of the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari and also sends our considered sincerest condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari on the loss of his able lieutenant and a very consistent loyalist, we also wish to remind the government that good governance standards ought to be complied with totally and unreservedly at all times by all and sundry in Nigeria just as the Rights group said it was wrong to convey the impression to the rest of the Nigerian Public that the laws, Rules and regulations are actually not supposed to be complied with by members of the ruling political association or affiliates of those who wield power in the political corridors of power.
“For the sake of public safety and public good, we urge the Presidential task force Chairman who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr. Boss Mustapha to self-isolate for 14 days and for the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to trace and send to the isolation centre the hundreds of the persons who attended the burial of the Chief of staff in clear violations of the extant laws regulating the conduct of funerals during the health emergency brought upon us by the rampaging CORONAVIRUS disease.
“Government must be seen following to the letter all the well thought out Rules and regulations mapped out for our good public good at this time pending the relaxation of the LOCKDOWN order by the Federal government of Nigeria. Laws are to be obeyed by all and sundry.
“In all parts of the world it has never been known that ELABORATE AND COLOURFUL funeral events are celebrated for persons who unfortunately passed on after catching up with the dreaded Health condition of COVID-19.
“This public show of total disregard for the laws that were rolled out and signed publicly by President Muhammadu Buhari as manifested by the rich and powerful who turned up for the burial ceremony must never be allowed to go the way of other illegalities in our clime.
“This flagrant disregard for the laws of SOCIAL DISTANCING is a danger and a NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH OF NIGERIANS because these persons who mingled around without adhering to the time tested and time honoured rules and Regulations as aforementioned will return back to their families and expose them to the danger of catching COVID-19 due to their disrespect for simple rules even as the public may be endangered”.
HURIWA regretted that in Abuja both the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, and the minister of state have continued to go about government business without following the general rules of SOCIAL DISTANCING because these politicians have on many occasions of either visiting some health facilities or inaugurating the distribution of the so-called Presidential reliefs to the poorest of the poor, have been seen gathering hundreds of hangers on and staff to the detriment of the public health concerns of millions of Abuja residents.
“HURIWA hereby condemns this reckless violations of the law and therefore absolutely condemns the arrest, prosecution at the illegal mobile courts in Abuja of peasants and poor residents by the same FCT administration officials that have scarce regards for the laws and Regulations. This COVID-19 hypocrisy of these lawless officials must be condemned wholeheartedly”.
HURIWA said: “We in the organised human rights community under the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) read the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu as he went about making the declaration on Saturday thus:’We just received the body of Abba Kyari the deceased Chief of Staff the President in Abuja. In strict observation of the protocol put in place for the burial of Coronavirus victims by the @NCDCgov and the Federal Ministry of Health, the funeral prayer and burial will be private.
Thereafter, there will be no such ceremonies as condolence visits. Well meaning friends, family members and the general public are encouraged to pray for the repose of Abba Kyari’s soul.
May Allah grant the family and nation the fortitude to bear the loss’. We then wonder why this government will not abide by her own rules. This consistent breach of commonsensical rules by officials of this government is totally condemned”.