Buhari shuts down Lagos, Abuja, Ogun for 14 days

PHOTO: TWITTER/@MBUHARI

• Orders repayment moratorium on loans, food rations
• To sustain school feeding programme amid stay-at-home
• Fayemi, Oyetola lock down Ekiti, Osun,
• AbdulRazaq donates salaries from May 2019
• One killed in Katsina over COVID-19 restriction
• Pressure mounts on govt to account for billions donated

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday announced the shutdown of Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ogun State with a view to containing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a nationwide broadcast, the president said: “Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11:00 p.m. on Monday, March 30, 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two states.

“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.”

The president said government would use the “containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States.”

He however listed some exceptions. These are hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organisations in health care related manufacturing and distribution; commercial establishments such as food processing, distribution and retail companies; petroleum distribution and retail entities; power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies.

He stressed: “Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored. Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff, who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.”

The president said: “All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. The Ports Health Authority will thoroughly screen vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these ports to other parts of the country before departure.

“Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.

“Accordingly, the Hon. Minister of Health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.”

He also ordered the suspension of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, noting that special permits will be issued on a needs basis.

Announcing a string of palliatives, Buhari “directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.

He also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.

“For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multilateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.

“For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks,” the president said.

“For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks,” he explained.

He further “instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with state governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The minister will be contacting the affected states and agree on detailed next steps.”

Admitting that the measures will cause “much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens,” the president warned: “This is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.

“However, we must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice.

“As we remain ready to enforce these measures, we should see this as our individual contribution in the war against COVID-19. Many other countries have taken far stricter measures in a bid to control the spread of the virus with positive results.”

Also, Ekiti Governor Kayode Fayemi yesterday imposed a 14-day dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state beginning Monday, March 30.

The governor said the measure was taken in urgent public interest, to ensure strict compliance with all directives for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who violates the order risks a six-month jail term, Fayemi disclosed in a broadcast yesterday.

Fayemi warned that the virus “has the potential to overwhelm our health infrastructure, cripple our economy and devastate Ekiti State in unimaginable proportions.”

He said during the period, movement between local governments is prohibited; movement between towns, villages and communities is also prohibited; every person shall also be confined to the place where he or she resides.

He noted: “All businesses and other entities shall cease operations during this period except those involved in the provision of essential goods or services. Markets, retail shops and shopping malls must be closed, except where essential goods are sold and with strict hygienic conditions to prevent the exposure of persons to COVID-19.”

Similarly, his Osun State counterpart, Gboyega Oyetola, announced that the state would close all land boundaries effective midnight, Sunday, March 29, while movement within the state will cease March 31.

“We believe this is the way to go, if we must contain the spread of this virus. To this end, we urge citizens and residents to take advantage of the hours between now and Tuesday to stock up provisions that will last them two weeks in the first instance.

“During the lockdown, there will be no movement within the state. The closed boundaries also mean there will be no inter-state movements. We have mandated and mobilised the state’s task force and security operatives to enforce the measures to the letter. We therefore strongly advise our people to remain in their homes during the period of the lock-down,” Oyetola said.

Full compliance with the closure of worship houses to check the spread of the COVID-19 virus at the 100,000-seater capacity Dunamis Church, Airport Road in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

On his part, Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq rallied support for the state’s campaign to keep Coronavirus (COVID-19) out of the state.

The governor also announced the donation of 100% of his 10 months salary from May 29, 2019 to date to his administration’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Whereas our state has no confirmed case of Coronavirus as at now, we have been taking every step necessary to ensure we keep Kwara safe. Such measures have included keeping our people at home while we ramp up investments in our capacity to cope with this global health emergency,” AbdulRazaq said in a statement issued by his chief press secretary Rafiu Ajakaye.

“This time calls for sacrifice from everyone as humanity needs all the help it can get. For this reason, I am hereby donating 100% of my monthly salary since May 29, 2019, when I was sworn in to our efforts to prevent this virus from getting to us, provide palliatives to our people, as well as boost our capacity to cope if it ever comes.”

The governor also commended members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for donating half their monthly salary to the National efforts to fight the virus.

“I single out my brother and sister Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Senator Gbemisola Saraki, who are both ministers, for their roles in this humanitarian gesture. And, on behalf of the people and government of Kwara State, I express our deepest appreciation to Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu and Mr Tony Elumelu for their generous donations to Kwara State,” the statement added.

“It is against this background that I appeal to all well-meaning corporate bodies and individuals to emulate these great Nigerians by joining our efforts in Kwara State. Donations can be made to the Kwara State Technical Committee. People may also donate foodstuffs for release to the poor people to further ease our campaign to keep the virus out of Kwara.

“Finally, I have directed the technical committee on COVID-19 to begin distribution of palliatives, including food stuffs, to the people this week even as I call on everyone to stay at home and stay safe and maintain social distancing.”

In a related development one person was killed while several others sustained injuries in Kusada, Katsina State, Saturday morning, when youths protesting the government’s restrictions on large gatherings went on the rampage.

The youths burnt the Divisional Police Station, seven vehicles and 10 motorcycles at the premises.

One cleric, Mallam Hassan, had defied the restriction and held Friday prayer at a Jumaat mosque. His followers however kicked against his subsequent arrest and took to the streets.

The police spokesman, SP Gambo Isah, who disclosed in a statement that 90 people were arrested, said: “The Katsina State government issued restriction orders Nos. SEC.2/T/3 and SEC.2/T/14 dated 25th and 27th March, 2020, directing the total closure of its borders and the suspension of large gatherings for the weekly Friday prayers and Sunday church services, while marriage ceremonies are to be conducted low key across the state as part of measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“However, yesterday, some disgruntled youths under the leadership of one Mallam Hassan tested the will of the state and conducted a Friday prayer.” He added: “The Commissioner of Police, Katsina State Command, CP Sanusi Buba, ordered the deployment of police patrol teams and a special joint security task force on the enforcement of public gatherings, led by DC Operations to the area. Normalcy has already been restored.”

Meanwhile, more Nigerians have intensified calls on federal and state authorities to account for funds donated to the fight against COVID-19.

“The public is already asking questions on where the donations and grants running into several billion are going into. This has therefore necessitated the need to open a public account where citizens can access such information,” said Prince Adelaja Adeoye, National Publicity Secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP).

Also, a former Lagos State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Segun Adewale, noted that with the donation of billions of naira by captains of industries, corporate organisations and individuals, it behooves the authorities to give a transparent account of how the money is spent.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked the Federal Government to publish weekly details of the exact funds and other resources allocated by the authorities. It also requested the ones received from the private sector.

Kolawole Oludare, SERAP’s deputy director, in a statement issued yesterday urged the government to publish the details of used and planned use of any such funds and resources to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Also, in a statement by National Coordinator Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), said: “Those making donations to government so as to attract tax rebates for their businesses are hypocrites. This is because these huge funds are not going to trickle down to those ordinary Nigerians who are in dire need of relief at this distressful time. The fund that is being set up will probably be mismanaged, since there is an opaque financial administrative style in the current administration.”

This was as non-governmental organisation, People for Good Leadership and Accountability (PGLA), said it is in league with security agencies to monitor the disbursement of funds to avoid mismanagement.

PGLA chairman, Chris Okoye, told reporters in Enugu after a meeting with the police that the outbreak of any disease presents an opportunity for managers of resources to loot government resources.

“We are liaising with security operatives – the EFCC, ICPC, Police, DSS and Civil Defence, and our sole aim is to ensure that whatever was allocated is used for that project. We are moving to track some of these things and know whether the budgets were utilised as promised. Once we notice that things did not go the way they should, we will raise questions and this can lead to prosecution,” he said.

A March 28 list by the Federal Ministry of Finance signed by Permanent Secretary Isa-Dutse had named the following donors: Aliko Dangote (N1billion), Abdulsamad Rabiu (N1billion), Femi Otedola (N1billion), Tony Elumelu (N1billion), Herbert Wigwe (N1billion), Segun Agbaje (N1billion), Jim Ovia (N1billion), Paul Eneche (N2billion in items), Access Bank (N1billion), GTBank (N1billion), Zenith Bank (N1billion), UBA (N2billion), NNPC (N11billion), Atiku Abubakar (N50million), TuFace Idibia (N10million), Akaninyene Adiaka (N100,000), Psalmist Ekpedeme JP (N100,000), Ben Legacy O. (N500,000).

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