President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered that all government officials, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno; ministers as well as journalists covering the State House who were at the burial of his late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, on Saturday to embark on 14 days self-isolation.
Kyari, who died from complications from the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Friday, was buried in Gudu Cemetery in Abuja on Saturday.
The President ordered the self-isolation of the officials and journalists in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
It was learnt that the President, who monitored the burial rites on the television, saw that the officials flagrantly violated the protocol and directives of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health on social distancing and wearing of face masks in crowded places.
The NCDC standard rule, however, is that whoever is suspected to have contacted the Coronavirus disease must self-isolate for 14 days.
Some of those officials at Kyari’s burial on Saturday who attempted to enter into the Presidential Villa were turned back on the order of the President.
Those denied access to the seat of power on Saturday after Kyari’s burial were State House Chief Protocol Officer, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure; Special Assistant to the President, Yusuf Sabiu; a nephew to the President, Musa Haro Daura, and Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu.
Others were Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmad Rufai, and Personal Assistant on New Media to President Buhari, Bashir Ahmed, among several more persons.
Ministers seen at Kyari’s funeral prayers and burial include the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami and the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, amongst others.
It was learnt that the security agencies in the Presidential Villa have been mandated to compile the list of officials, including the ministers, at the burial with a view to preventing them from having access to the State House until they are certified okay by the NCDC after their mandatory 14 days isolation.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, confirmed the ban on their entry into the Villa yesterday as he wrote on his Twitter handle: “There is nothing extraordinary about those of us who attended Abba Kyari’s funeral being advised to distance ourselves from the Villa.
“This is in line with the standard rules put in place by the National Centre for Disease Control @NCDCgov and the Federal Ministry of Health. You do these things to stop the spread of #Coronavirus.
“For the most part, the Villa has operated digitally in the last few weeks. So, there is really nothing new to this.”
The advisory issued to State House Correspondents and media officers who attended the burial by Attah Esa, a Deputy Director in the Presidency was more explicit on the ban.
He wrote: “As a precautionary measure, all State House Correspondents
and Media Office Staff who covered/attended the funeral prayer/burial ceremony of the late Chief of Staff, at Defence House and Gudu Cemetery Abuja, respectively, are strongly advised to work from home for the next 14 days.
“Please be careful to observe the recommended measures to prevent the coronavirus transmission, including maintaining physical distancing and good personal hygiene going forward.”
The instruction on social distancing and wearing of face masks at crowded place was jettisoned at the burial rites for the late Chief of Staff.
The crowd that attended the burial rites was equally uncontrolled, fueling the fears that many of them may have been unknowingly infected.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) said it has taken steps to ensure that all future burials of victims of COVID-19 are conducted in line with protocols established by the NCDC.