The Presidency has described the decision of security officials to bar attendees of the burial ceremony of the late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, from the State House as “normal protocol.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated this in twitter handle @GarShehu: “There is nothing extraordinary about those of us who attend 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.”
He said those who attended the event were supposed to proceed on self-isolation immediately after the ceremonies.
In another statement on Sunday, the Presidency told the media staff and State House correspondents who covered or attended the burial to self-isolate for the next 14 days.
The Deputy Director, Information, State House, Attah Esa, in a statement titled ‘Advisory to State House Correspondents/Media Staff,’ said, “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.”
In response to journalists who wanted the true picture of things, the presidential media aide said: “It is true. It’s nothing that anyone should be angry about. They were just obeying rules. We have all attended the burial of a close friend in this season, anyone will know that after such occasion, you are meant to proceed on self-isolation. So what happened was standard protocol.
“If you observed, we have mostly been working digitally, most of our works have been done digitally, in observance of the social distance advice,” he said.
Shehu was reacting to an online report that senior State House officials were denied access into the Villa after attending the burial ceremony, which included prayers on the corpse of Kyari at the Defence Guest House in Maitama and an interment at Gudu Cemetery.
The report had claimed key aides to President Muhammadu Buhari, who attended the burial, incurred the president’s displeasure for allegedly violating Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) regulations, especially social distancing.
Among those turned back from the State House were Chief Protocol Officer, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, Special Assistant to the President, Yusuf Sabiu, nephew to the president, Musa Haro Daura and Garba Shehu, National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Ahmad Rufai, and Personal Assistant on New Media to President Buhari and Bashir Ahmed.
Kyari died Friday from COVID-19 in a Lagos hospital and was buried in Abuja on Saturday. His burial attracted criticisms from Nigerians who decried the zero observance of social distancing at his residence and burial site where there was a clear violation of NCDC regulation of not more than 20 to 50 people at event of that nature.
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