Apprehension Over Spending Of COVID-19 Funds In States [Leadership]
There is growing apprehension over the spending of COVID-19 funds in the states, with some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) calling for accountability in the disbursement of the said funds.
This is coming just as the governors managing the crisis in the states have said that they will ensure accountability in the spending of the funds donated by Nigerians and the federal government.
The inability of some state governments to give account of funds donated by private firms, individuals and federal government in the fight against coronavirus has raised many unanswered questions.
Stakeholders have expressed worry over the failure of some states to create an accountability framework from inception to account for all the funds being received.
In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP, they also called for total accountability of the utilisation and distribution of funds while urging government to record and pro-actively publish all distributed funds so that impartial and objective verification can be carried out.
The executive director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, said despite the fact that states did not receive equal support, there should be no excuse for lack of accountability.
She said, “One, the federal government is not clear on the COVID-19 spending itself, so what do we expect at the state level where there is so much opacity? It is also good to put it in proper perspective, that the states did not receive equal support. So we can’t compare the support received by Lagos and Kano to what Jigawa or Ekiti received. However, that should be no excuse for lack of accountability. The problem is states did not create any accountability framework from inception to account for funds received
“However it is not too late to build trust with citizens. The governors are by now aware that the only challenge to the COVID-19 response is a lack of trust and previous history of corruption. I do hope they take the bull by the horn and immediately account for the resources before the ICPC or EFCC land at their doorsteps.”
Also speaking, the executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/ Transparency International, Musa Awwal Rafsonjani said in times of global public emergency, proactive measures to ensure judicious utilisation and distribution of funds are needed more than ever, adding that inclusion of media and other accountability entities in the Committee would compel transparency and accountability in the utilisation and dissemination of funds.
He said, “At this critical juncture, Nigeria cannot afford the mismanagement and misappropriation of public and donated funds.
“While we monitor with keen interest response of various authorities to commitment of the federal government towards alleviating impacts of the newly pronounced lockdown in some states, we demand sincere effort to ensure relief materials and other financial and material assistance are deployed accordingly to citizens irrespective of their socio-economic status with holistic and transparent strategy to adequately appropriate relief package to citizens at the grassroots level”.
Rafsonjani observed that ongoing developments had further revealed the government’s inadequate preparedness and capacity to mitigate impacts of the pandemic and other national emergency with existing poor national storage capacity for food and other basic needs to respond adequately.
He further called on the states, federal government, relevant authorities and anti-graft institutions to ensure proper accountability in the utilisation and distribution of the donated funds.
“All distributed funds need to be recorded and pro-actively published so that impartial and objective verification is enabled. We also call on the civil society, media and all well-meaning citizens to constructively monitor and report progress as events unfold.”
Adding, he said, “Any money, any material or anything that has to do with COVID-19, we demand for full accountability of it. Unfortunately both the federal government and the state governments have collected donations, contributions, loans and also used public money in the name of palliatives and coronavirus, but unfortunately neither the federal government or state governments has been able to give out information to Nigerians on how this money has been used and where and when or what facilities or equipment, or palliatives are given to Nigerians.
“Hospitals are not being upgraded; they are still in the situation they used to be; the facilities are not being improved because some wicked public officials are interested in using the COVID-19 issue to enrich themselves. This is why they are not able to publish the expenses on how they have used the money they collected both at the state and federal levels.”
On his part, the executive director of Yiaga Africa, Barr Samson Itodo, charged citizens to continue to raise questions on funding for COVID-19 as part of efforts to hold government to account.
According to him, „This is the dark side of the government‘s response to the pandemic. Citizens need to continue to raise questions on funding for COVID-19 as part of efforts to hold the government to account. Government owes Nigerians an explanation for the spending and sources of income. It will be crass irresponsibility for our political class to make a fortune out of a misery that has claimed lives and left over 14,000 people infected.“
In Imo State, the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has not left anyone in doubt of his determination to check the spread of the raging global coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Apart from establishing a number of isolation centres and equipping them with necessary medical facilities to contain the spread of the virus, he has also provided and distributed many modern functional ambulances to these centres.
Chairman of the Taskforce on COVID-19 in the state, Prof. Maurice Iwu and his team are indeed, working round the clock in this direction and the lockdown coupled with the curfew imposed in the state have tremendously assisted to contain the spread.
Although the chairman of the COVID-19 Taskforce, Professor Maurice Iwu, declined to give the exact figures so far injected in the onslaught against the pandemic, a highly placed source at the corridors of power confided in our correspondent that the state government had so far spent over N500 million.
The source who would not want his name in print said: “My brother, it is difficult for me to give you the accurate amount the government has spent in the fight against the COVID-19. Either get in touch with the chairman of the Task Force or the state Accountant General for this, but I doubt if they will oblige you because, as you know, the state government would not want to do anything that will elicit public outcry. The government has spent a lot and is still spending”.
Further enquiries revealed that over 50% of the money came from government coffers while some public spirited individuals, corporate bodies, organization and Industries assisted and even donated hand washing plastic buckets, soap and sanitizers.
Speaking to our correspondent, an aide to Governor Hope Uzodimma Chief Iwunna Obikwere said that the state government is losing sleep over the presence of the pandemic in the state and that funds being channelled to tackle it had led to the suspension of the execution of some projects.
In Bayelsa State, the COVID-19 committee confirmed that the sum of N238million was received from donors to support the state government in its efforts to curtail the epidemic that has recorded over four deaths in the state.
Attempts to speak with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and the deputy chairman of the State COVID-19 committee, Dr.Inodu Opoku, failed as he refused to answer inquiries from our correspondent.
But in a pictorial chart made available by the acting chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Dan Alabra, the state government has received cash donations of N238 million from corporate organizations and private persons.
In the chart, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Sterling Bank emerged the highest donors of N100million each,followed by the United Bank of Africa with N28.5million.
Also listed as a donor is the immediate past governor of the state, Hon Seriake Dickson, with N10million.
In Borno, the government said it had expended a total sum of N201 million on COVID-19 containment and related issues since the outbreak of the pandemic.
According to the state‘s commissioner of health who is also the chairman, High Powered Response Team for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19, some of the funds were spent on logistics and equipment such as new testing laboratories.
In Sokoto State, the commissioner for health and chairman, state task force on COVID-19, Dr Muhammad Ali Inname, has said it was too early in the day to start thinking of accounting for monies spent on the ongoing fight against the pandemic.
Dr Inname however said his committee was very prudent with whatever that has come to them.
In Benue State, the Action Committee on COVID-19 could not give the exact amount spent so far in tackling COVID-19 pandemic, but an insider who told our correspondent on condition of anonymity that the Committee is still spending money, so it is after the pandemic is over that they will be able to give the exact amount spent.
In tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom first of all set up the Action Response Committee on COVID-19 which at its inception was headed by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services Dr Sunday Ongbabo.
Governor Ortom noted that N76 million was already released to the Action Committee on COVID- 19 and a Hilux vehicle to facilitate its operations. After a while the governor also announced the release of additional N100 million to the committee.
In another instance, Governor Ortom while commending the State Action Committee for a job well done also announced the approval of additional N50 million to enable the committee do more.
In Taraba State, while the commissioner for health, Dr Innocent Vakai, who also doubles as the chairman of the Action Committee against COVID-19 Spread, did not pick his phone to confirm how much the committee had spent on containing the virus in the state.
His committee member and commissioner for information and orientation, Barr Danjuma Adamu, told our correspondent that the information can only be obtained while the committee is briefing journalists at the usual press briefing.
In Lagos, in a bid to show transparency and accountability in the management of funds and donations in the state which, the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently released the names of individuals and corporate organisations that donated to the state government towards the fight against the pandemic.
The donations, which are in cash and materials such as hospital items, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), ambulances, respirators, isolation facilities and food items to support the vulnerable and the needy during the period of lockdown, were acknowledged by the governor in a widely circulated advertisement published in some major national newspapers.
Giving hints on expenditure so far, the state commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said efforts to flatten the curve of coronavirus pandemic in the state were still on, saying it had conducted over 16,000 COVID-19 tests so far at the average cost of N40,000 to N50,000.
In Plateau State, the government has spent the total of N20,320,000 on testing COVID- 19 patients.
Relevant government officials, however, declined to give the total figure of the amount it had spent on containing the virus.
The state governor, Simon Lalong said so far a total number of 2,032 people had been tested for COVID-19 in the state, adding that each test costs the government N10,000.
He pointed out that the state government was still spending money on the COVID-19 pandemic because it is not yet over. .
In Kaduna, the state government has commended individuals, firms and agencies that had made cash donations amounting to N641 million to its COVID-19 fund as of last month.
Muyiwa Adekeye, special adviser on Media and Communication to Governor Nasir el-Rufai, had recently expressed deep appreciation to First Lady Aisha Buhari for donating food items as palliatives to low income earners and vulnerable people in the state.
LEADERSHIP learnt that BUA Group, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Bank of Industry, Nigerian Breweries and others made cash donations, while Dangote Foundation, Flour Mills, Olam and Nestle have provided support in kind.
Also, government appointees including the governor and civil servants have also donated part of their salaries to the fight against the pandemic in the state.
In Kwara, the state government has so far received N230m cash donations in its efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
However, as at the time of this report, the actual amount the government had so far spent on containing the deadly virus could not be ascertained.
All efforts to get the figure from the spokesman of the state‘s technical committee on COVID-19, Rafiu Ajakaye who is also the chief press secretary to the state governor proved abortive.
But the state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, had hinted that the state had not spent a dime from the N230m cash donations, saying that the situation will remain like that until the state House of Assembly gives a legal backing to spending the funds.
The BUA Group‘s chairman, Abdulsamad Rabiu, donated N100m to the state’s campaign against COVID-19 pandemic, a few weeks after he initially donated N1bn to some frontline states, including Kwara, for the same purpose.
In Niger, last week, the Secretary to Niger State government (SSG) and chairman of the state‘s Taskforce on COVID-19, Alhaji Ahmed Matane, told the state assembly that the task force had expended N795 million to fight coronavirus.
The state House of Assembly had invited the SSG to explain why the affairs of the taskforce was shrouded in secrecy and carried out without some members of the task force.
The SSG also disclosed that the state had not received any money from the federal government for COVID-19 activities.
According to Matane, N410 million was expended on palliatives, N85 million on electricity subsidy, while the remaining amount was expended on logistics of taskforce members, movement of patients from the local government centres to the isolation centres, providing water, allowances for volunteers, security operatives, front line workers and some members of the task force.
The chairman of the COVID-19 task force in Niger State said that N290 million was expended for medicals like Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), drugs, capacity building for health workers, communication and travelling for health workers.
On money received so far as donations, he added that the task force got N47 million from individuals and corporate organisations.
In Ekiti, though there is not much information about the actual amount Ekiti State Government had so far spent in the fight against coronavirus, the state has, however, received millions of naira, food items and medical equipment in donations from individuals and corporate bodies.
When called to speak on how much the state had spent to contain the spread of the disease in the state, the Commissioner for Health, Dr (Mrs) Mojisola Yaya-Kolade did not pick calls put across to her.
As at May, 2020, the state government disclosed that it has received a total N631 million from the Covid-19 Response Resource Mobilization Committee set up to raise and manage funds and projects to aid the government‘s fight against the spread of the virus in the state.
The said amount, according to the coordinator of the State COVID-19 Taskforce, Professor Bolaji Aluko, was raised by the committee from 535 Ekiti sons and daughters.
In Rivers State, the Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 has said it will be unfair to ask the state government to account for funds spent when the fight to lower the curve of the pandemic was still on.
Media secretary of the group, Comrade Green Isaac, who disclosed this while speaking with LEADERSHIP in Port Harcourt, said civil society will be able to probe into how much was spent by the state government after the fight might have been won.
Isaac said, „Well, as at this moment, we cannot say that the Rivers State government has spent so so and so amount of money. We are still lurking up our fingers and hoping that after this whole thing, we will be able to poke into how much the government has spent.
Disqualification: APC Govs Move To Save Obaseki [Leadership]
In a bid to halt the imminent defection of their Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have engaged in a last minute bid to get the ruling party allow him participate in the June 22 primary election.
The governors who expressed confidence that the party would emerge stronger from its current challenges, declared their resolve to strengthen fair and democratic internal party mechanism for the selection of party candidates in respect of the Edo and Ondo States 2020 Governorship elections.
Obaseki on Saturday got an endorsement from APC leaders in the state to defect to his party of choice following his disqualification alongside two other aspirants, from participating in the primary election by the screening and appeal committees of the APC governor.
The Edo governor has since opened talks with PDP despite oppositions from two of the three aspirants of the party kicking against his emergence as consensus candidate.
Worried that the party might lose the state, the APC governors said they have resolved to ensure the strengthening of democratic mechanisms in the party ahead of the primaries.
A statement signed by the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, said the governors have ”Collectively agreed to work to ensure strengthening fair and democratic internal party mechanism for the selection of party candidates in all elections, especially in respect of Edo and Ondo states 2020 Governorship elections.”
The APC governors’ forum at a Teleconference meeting on Saturday ”unanimously reaffirmed the commitment of all Progressive Governors to work for the unity of our party.
”Forum members are confident that the party will resolve all current challenges and emerge stronger,” the governors said.
Edo Gov Visits PDP Counterparts
Meanwhile, Obaseki yesterday met the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, yesterday at Government House, Port Harcourt.
The Edo State governor who arrived Government House, Port Harcourt at about 2pm was received by Wike at his official residence. Both governors immediately went into a closed door meeting which lasted for three hours.
Both governors declined to speak with newsmen on the outcome of the meeting. However, a source close to Government House, Port Harcourt, said Obaseki’s visit is connected with his plans to join the PDP following calls by a faction of APC in Edo State for his expulsion from the party over alleged anti-party activities.
Obaseki also met with the Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel to consolidate his likely defection plans.
Ondo Deputy Gov’s Defection Suffers Setback
In a related development, moves by the Ondo State deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, to defect to the opposition PDP to contest the October 10 governorship election may have hit a brick-wall.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Ajayi is expected to formally announce his defection to PDP this week amid claims that he has secretly bought the party’s governorship nomination form in readiness for the primary election.
Ajayi’s desire for an automatic ticket as well as the pressure mounted on PDP governorship aspirants were reportedly resisted as almost all the aspirants insisted on contesting the primary election.
The deputy governor whose relationship with his boss, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has soured following his insistence to run against the incumbent governor was said to have initially brokered a deal with some PDP national leaders with a view to fielding him as running mate to the party’s 2016 governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.
A member of the PDP national leadership, who confided in our correspondent, disclosed that the earlier arrangement to make Ajayi the running mate to Jegede appears to have failed.
The party leader said an initial plan, hatched barely two weeks ago, was revisited after some ”national leaders saw the need to properly assess the popularity and experience of both Ajayi and Jegede” with a view to bringing the best combination on board.
He continued: ”Honestly, we at the national level want the best for the party and that is what we have been working day and night to do as far as the Ondo State governorship election is concerned.
”We are on the verge of receiving the deputy governor into our party and he is no doubt, a big fish that will give the APC a good fight in the forthcoming election. One clear message we have been giving to all aspirants is that none of them will have anything to share.
”So, initially when the deputy governor met some of us, he insisted that he was not desperate to be Governor that he just wanted the incumbent out; and our informal conclusion was that he could pair as running mate with our 2016 candidate, Jegede, and he had no objection to that.
”But from what we have seen on the ground last week, the deputy governor seems to have a more formidable structure than Jegede and we have opened discussions on how Ajayi will be candidate while Jegede runs as his deputy with a caveat that Agboola will run for only one term and hand over to Jegede.
”We have been assessing their strengths, popularity and experience but the issue we have been confronted with is the fact that the deputy governor seems to have sealed another deal with some APC leaders without our knowledge that after his victory at the poll, he would return to the APC.
”He is already discussing at top levels in this regard in order to have some leverage of security. But we are yet to confirm. So we are already talking to Jegede to cede the ticket to Ajayi by stepping down; he would then be picked as running mate to Ajayi”.
Meanwhile, a pro-PDP political pressure group, the Ondo Renaissance Movement (ORM) has accused the PDP national leadership of ceding its governorship ticket to the south with Ajayi in mind.
The pressure group in a statement by its coordinator, Comrade Joshua Adesuyi Falade alleged that the National Working Committee of the PDP fell for financial inducement by Ajayi.
”We are aware of the all behind the scene moves by the deputy Governor as he is trying all manner of things to get our party ticket. The latest is that he took the sum of N200 million to bribe the NWC of our party to cede the ticket to the south and then pick him as candidate with Eyitayo Jegede as his deputy governorship candidate.
”This one will fail because those of us who suffered for the party since 2011 and even before then are not fools. If that happens, we shall mobilise our teaming supporters across the state to move to the APC and work for whoever is the candidate of the party.
Presidency Hits Back At PDP, Others [Leadership]
The presidency yesterday fired back at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the party’s attack on President Muhammadu Buhari following the reported face off among officials and family members of the president in Aso Rock.
The PDP had in a statement issued on Saturday alleged shooting and security breaches within the precincts of the presidential villa after a reported degenerated squabble among family members of the president and officials at the presidential villa.
The opposition had claimed that the gross failure of the president to provide leadership both as family head and leader led to the growing apprehensions as well as lack of coordination in governance.
But hitting back at the PDP, the presidency accused the opposition party and other critics of the president of always looking for “minor occurrence” within the seat of power to justify their attacks on President Buhari.
It said already, the president has acted in compliance with the rule of law and has directed that the law should be allowed to take its course.
Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement assured that the president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces was not “at any time in any form of danger arising, either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation.
“That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief. In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course”, Shehu added.
Noting that the presidency has “acknowledged concerns expressed by several members of the public regarding the recent incident among the occupants of the State House, which led to the arrest of some staff by the police, Shehu said “this particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President”.
Insisting that it was not as serious as portrayed by the opposition, Shehu said, “Armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House receive the necessary training of especially weapons handling and where they come short, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to immediately address them.
“Having authorized the proper investigation to be carried out into this unfortunate incident by the Police, the President has acted in compliance with the rule of law”.
The Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu had reportedly arrested some aides of the First Lady over a shooting incident at the State House.
In her response, Aisha Buhari had in a tweet called on the IGP to release her staff to avoid exposing them to Covid -19.
Buhari orders probe of shooting outside Villa residence [Nation]
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into last Thursday’s security infractions involving gunshots reportedly fired around the State House in Abuja.
In a statement yesterday, the Presidency also noted that the incident never took place within the walls of the State House and did not portend any danger to the safety and health of the President.
The statement by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, also said President Buhari would allow the law to run its course on the matter.
It was the President’s reaction to the alleged shooting incident.
The statement expressed disappointment over the sentiment being given the incident by the opposition, especially for using it to justify its attack on the government.
Shehu said: “The Presidency wishes to acknowledge concerns expressed by several members of the public regarding the recent incident among the occupants of the State House which escalation led to the arrest of some staff by the police.
“This is to assure all and everyone that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, is not, and was not at any time in any form of danger arising, either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation.
“This particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President. Armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House receive the necessary training on, especially weapons handling and where they come short, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to immediately address them.
“Having authorised the proper investigation to be carried out into this unfortunate incident by the police, the President has acted in compliance with the rule of law.
“That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief.
“In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course,” the statement said.
Adeboye to obey protocol as churches brace for reopening [Nation]
GENERAL Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, yesterday said he, his wife and grandchildren would stay away from church services in Lagos in line with COVID-19 prevention protocols.
He said he would continue preaching online.
Adeboye backed the government’s protocol on reopening of worship centres.
He told members to resume worship from Sunday in places where the law permitted them to do so.
Speaking during a service aired on Dove Television, he said: “We want to thank the Almighty God that some of us will begin to gather again as from Sunday.
“I believe that some of you are already gathering in some parts of the world and we believe that you will now begin to enjoy the power of corporate prayers once again.
“But as you gather together in all those places where you are free to gather, please remember those of us who cannot gather with you yet.
“People like me and my wife cannot gather with you in Lagos because we are over 65 years of age and my grandchildren cannot gather with you yet because they are under 15 years of age.
“So, remember us in prayers, so that very soon, we will be able to join you,” he said.
He urged worshippers to continue to pray for the end of the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Also on Sunday, Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Ignatius Kaigama, noted that the guidelines for worship centres were “rigid”.
In his homily at the Pro-Cathedral, Abuja, he said the Eucharist is the most important treasure that Jesus bequeathed to the Church, and that Catholics were anxious to be allowed back to the communal celebration of the mass.
“Happily, we can do so today (yesterday) following rigid guidelines to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus,” he said.
He urged worshippers to pray for the world in these troubled times.
“May our participation in the Eucharist bring to each one of us inner transformation; healing for those who are ill and through our charitable actions bring hope to those who lack the basic necessities of life,” Kaigama added.
Also on Sunday, the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos restated its commitment to the protocols on worship centre reopening.
Director of Social Communications Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu said in a statement that the church was preparing towards reopening in line with social distancing and hygiene protocols.
On the Lagos State Government’s advisory that those above 65 should not attend churches, he said many of them were healthy.
“As for me, these restrictions should be for those with underlying health conditions,” Godonu said.
More churches on Sunday opened for service in Kwara State in full compliance with the protocols.
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Implementation Compliance Committee Chairman, Shina Ibiyemi, said: “There was great compliance in our discoveries in the areas of social distancing, availability and use of an infrared thermometer, availability of facemasks in various churches, provision of running water, hand sanitisers and enough ventilation.
“The decency, compliance and cooperation of the clergymen are unquantifiable. We got satisfactory vis-a-vis excellent cooperation of most churches visited.”
The Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaimon Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla, said mosques would remain closed.
“The mosque should still be closed because the number of index cases is still on the rise. They should not open Mosques for now.
“The government should not rush to open religious centres since the reason for their closure has not been defeated,” he said.
The Federal Government on June 2 said places of worship must comply with all aspects of non-pharmaceutical interventions required to protect the public from COVID-19.
“Volunteers should be limited to exact numbers needed and none of the volunteers should have underlying medical conditions or be above the age of 55 years,” the PTF said.
Lagos State said religious organisations would be required to conduct their services under strict guidelines when they resume on June 19 (for Muslims) and June 21 (for Christians).
“We will be advising very strongly that persons below the age of 15…should be excused from the places of worship, while citizens above the age of 65 should also not be allowed into these places of worship,” Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said.
FCTA shuts down Abuja mall over Naira Marley’s show [Nation]
•Musician under attack for performing despite restrictions
THE Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on Sunday closed down the popular Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja indefinitely after the facility violated the Presidential Task Force’s (PTF) directives on the ban on public gatherings as part of measures to curb the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The order issued by the FCT Task Force on COVID-19 is coming a day after popular musician, Azeez Fashola, known as Naira Marley, featured and entertained fun-seekers at the mall.
Naira Marley came under intense criticism for performing at the concert that recorded massive attendance.
It was gathered that Naira Marley flew from Lagos to Abuja with Ex-BBNaija star, Kim Oprah, despite the ban on interstate movement and flights.
Speaking to reporters in Abuja after sealing the mall, Chairman of the Ministerial Enforcement Task team on COVID-19 restrictions, Ikharo Attah, lamented that despite several warnings from the PTF and the FCT Administration on guidelines to operate, the mall management chose to permit a concert by Naira Marley and also conducting business activities exceeding the normal hours allowed by the authorities.
He added that the administration has secured a judgment from a mobile court headed by Magistrate Idayat Akonni, who sat in the mall’s premises in Jabi to seal up the mall for two weeks for default of the COVID-19 protocols following three count charges.
Ikharo, who explained that the seal-up order was necessitated by the unlawful and the embarrassing event at the mall on Friday night.
When asked if the FCT administration plan to declare Marley wanted, Attah said: “He flew into Abuja Friday from Lagos and returned back the same day to the nation’s former capital city. We are convinced that the Lagos State government, which had in recent past had an unpleasant experience with the artist will do the needful since he also breached the interstate travel ban, which applies to Lagos State.”
Many Abuja residents have criticised the organisers of the event for holding such during the COVID-19 pandemic saga.
They are of the views that Naira Marley should be sanctioned for performing and violating the PTF protocols.
The event, which was meant to be a “drive-in concert”, was was organised by Play Network Africa, Traffic Bar, El’Carnival and sponsored by Glenfiddich with tickets sold between N20,000 and N250,000.
According to reports, it was gathered that fans at the concert defied the social distancing order as stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Fans trooped out of their vehicles to the stage ground to witness Naira Marley’s performance.
Villa shooting: Aisha’s ADC, escort commander, riot cops may face panel this week [Punch]
- Security breach to top IG, management team’s meeting today
- DSS operative attached to Buhari’s nephew fired shots – Source
The shooting at the Presidential Villa involving Usman Shugaba, the Aide-de-Camp to the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, and other security agents attached to her will top the agenda of the police management team meeting today (Monday).
The PUNCH gathered in Abuja on Sunday that the First Lady’s security aides would face a panel that would be set up by the leadership of the police.
It was also learnt the affected security aides would not be restored to the wife of the President following their involvement in an altercation with a personal assistant and nephew of the President, Sabiu Yusuf, also known as Tunde, last Thursday, at the Presidential Villa.
The trouble started on Thursday night, when the President’s wife and three of her children – Zahra, Halima and Yusuf – as well as some of her security aides, led by Shugaba, stormed the residence of Yusuf at House 8 by the Pilot Gate of the Presidential Villa.
They insisted that Yusuf, who had just returned from Lagos, should proceed on self-isolation for 14 days, to save the President and his family from the danger of COVID-19.
Yusuf had visited his wife, who was recently delivered of a baby in Lagos.
The situation worsened when the First Lady’s ADC, in his attempt to apprehend Yusuf allegedly released some gunshots on the premises.
Following the gunshots, Yusuf ran away and took refuge in the nearby house of his uncle, Mamman Daura, also Buhari’s nephew.
The IGP, a report further stated, after receiving security report at the Presidential Villa, ordered the arrest of the ADC to the First Lady and other security aides, who accompanied her to Yusuf’s residence.
Besides the ADC, a chief superintendent of police, others arrested were the escort commander, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sheriff Kazeem, who is the son of ex-IG, Hafiz Ringim, and four riot policemen who were at the scene of the incident. The operatives are being held since Friday morning.
One of our correspondents learnt on Sunday that the shooting incident would top the agenda at the weekly meeting of the police management team which would be presided over by the IG at the force headquarters, Abuja, today (Monday).
A source in the Presidency who confided in The PUNCH, said, “Shooting at the State House is not permitted under any guise. It is a serious security breach that should not have happened. And that is why the IG ordered the detention of the officers involved. The men will face a police panel and if found culpable, may be demoted and redeployed from the Presidential Villa.”
Explaining the incident further, the source stated, “The ADC, Shugaba, fired gunshots in the air after Yusuf jumped a locked gate in a bid to escape. Yusuf narrated the incident to Daura who informed Mr President; the President was very furious and he complained to the IG.”
“The truth is that the officers can’t go back to the villa. If they did not lose their ranks, they would be redeployed to other formations; this kind of incident attracts demotion and serious reprimand,” an official noted.
The Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, could not be reached for comments as he did not respond to calls. He had yet to reply an SMS as of the time of filing this report.
One of our correspondents further gathered that Shugaba started working with the First Lady about three months ago.
Findings indicated that Shugaba was the Chief Security Officer to the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, before he was redeployed to the Villa as ADC to Aisha.
The PUNCH learnt that Shugaba had denied firing the shots, insisting that the shooting was done by a DSS official.
‘Tunde’s security aide, not first lady’s ADC, fired shot’
A top aide to the first lady, however, told The PUNCH that the gunshots that were fired last Thursday emanated from the gun of one of Yusuf’s security aides.
He said it was unfortunate that the police, acting under the instruction of Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, had decided to take sides with Yusuf (Tunde) and feed lies to the public.
The aide, who wished to remain anonymous said, “Madam (Aisha) never asked her aides to shoot Yusuf. It was Yusuf’s security men that were shooting into the air when madam’s ADC attempted to remove him from the Villa.
“If the police investigate thoroughly, they will discover that the bullets came from the gun of one of Yusuf’s security aides. Unfortunately, the public is being fed with lies. The police IG is also bowing to pressure from Mamman Daura who is the brother to Tunde’s late mum.
“Also, Yusuf met with Maikanti Baru, the former GMD of NNPC that died of Covid-19. Tunde’s wife is pregnant but it is not true that he went to visit his wife. He went to visit Baru and that is why we said he should self-isolate.”
Why First Lady has not been speaking –Aide
Meanwhile, Aisha’s Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi, has said the first lady’s aides are still in police custody.
Abdullahi said this on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme on Sunday.
The spokesman, however, dodged several other questions, insisting that the President had already ordered an investigation into the matter.
He also said he was not sure if any of Tunde’s aides had been arrested.
When asked if the aides of the First Lady were still in the custody of the police, the spokesperson said, “In my opinion, I think they are still in the custody of the police. I know her ADC head, escort commander, police attached to her office are in the custody of the police.”
Responding to questions on why Aisha had not been speaking up for the release of her aides, he said, “She always speaks out publicly. The reason she has stopped speaking out now is that whenever she speaks, people misconstrue or take her statement out of context. But she always means well for the country so that she and her children can have a bright future even after this administration is over.”
The First Lady had protested the detention of her security aides and called on the IG to release them in a series of tweets on her Twitter handle last Friday.
Aisha also admonished relevant government agencies to enforce the Quarantine Act signed by the President.
“I call on the IGP to release my members of staff who are still in the custody of the police in order to avoid putting their lives in danger or exposure to COVID-19 while in their custody.”
Let the law take its course, Buhari tells police
Meanwhile, the President on Sunday said the law should be allowed to take its course on the shooting incident involving the security aides attached to his wife, Aisha, inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday night.
Buhari, in a statement on Sunday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said where armed guards come short in the handling of weapons, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to address them.
Overruling his wife’s call for the release of the security details, the President insisted that the law should take its course.
The statement read, “The Presidency wishes to acknowledge concerns expressed by several members of the public regarding the recent incident among the occupants of the State House which escalation led to the arrest of some staff by the police.
“This is to assure all and everyone that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, is not, and was not at anytime in any form of danger arising, either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation.
“This particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President.
“Armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House receive the necessary training of especially weapons handling and where they come short, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to immediately address them.
“Having authorised the proper investigation to be carried out into this unfortunate incident by the police, the President has acted in compliance with the rule of law.
“That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief.
“In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course.”
APC govs to meet Buhari, Obaseki consults Wike, Akwa Ibom governor [Punch]
Barring any last-minute change, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress will be holding a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the Edo State APC governorship primary crisis.
One of our correspondents gathered in Abuja on Sunday that the governors would seek Buhari’s intervention in the crisis, which had led to the disqualification of the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, from the state APC primary scheduled for June 22.
As the APC governors were preparing to meet Buhari, Obaseki on Sunday held separate meetings with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Udom Emmanuel.
It was gathered that Obaseki’s meetings were part of his consultations before taking his final decision.
The crisis between Obaseki and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, came to a head on Friday, when the screening committee set up by the party’s National Working Committee disqualified Obaseki and the appeal panel upheld the disqualification.
The screening committee said it disqualified Obaseki because of contradictions in his credentials.
On Sunday, a leader of the party, who spoke in confidence because he was not authorised to speak on the issue said, “The governors are scheduled to meet with Mr. President tomorrow (Monday) to try to redeem what is left of previous attempts to broker peace.
“They are trying to save themselves because what is happening to Obaseki may happen to them.”
Also, the APC governors expressed confidence that the party would resolve its current internal challenges and come of out stronger.
This was contained in a communiqué issued on Sunday, after an emergency Teleconference meeting on Saturday.
The communiqué which was signed by the chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Abubakar Bagudu, said the meeting was held to discuss issues around preparations for the Edo and Ondo States APC governorship primary as well as the elections which will follow.
Wike, Obaseki, in 40-minute closed-door meeting
Meanwhile, Obaseki, on Sunday, made a surprise visit to Wike.
Obaseki, who was driven into the Government House in Port Harcourt about a few minutes to 1pm, was immediately received by Wike, before they went into a closed-door meeting, which was said to have lasted for about 40 minutes.
Though the reason for the Edo Governor’s visit to Rivers State was not mentioned by anybody, Obaseki’s envisaged move to the PDP might be the motive behind his trip to the Government House in Port Harcourt.
A Port Harcourt Government House source told one of our correspondents that the closed-door meeting between Obaseki and Wike was only covered by two photographers, adding that no journalist was allowed to enter.
After the visit to Wike, Obaseki also met the Akwa Ibom State governor in Uyo, the state capital.
Governors elected on the platform of the People Democratic Party have thrown weight behind the alleged plan by Obaseki to defect from the APC to the PDP.
The governors were said to have given Obaseki the nod after his consultation with Wike and Emmanuel on Sunday.
A competent source, who was privy to the meetings, said the discussions were mainly on his plan to join the PDP ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in his state.
It was also gathered that the governor had met with some leaders of the PDP in Edo State.
The faction of the APC in the state loyal to Oshiomhole, on Sunday, called for the expulsion of Obaseki; the chairman of the faction loyal to Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua, and Dr Aisosan Amadasun, for alleged anti-party activities.
Addressing journalists at the factional party secretariat in Benin on Sunday, the acting Chairman, Col David Imuse (retd.), also said there was no faction in the party as being reported in the media, adding that Ojezua was duly removed as chairman of the party and suspended.
But Ojezua said Imuse was an impostor who was facing contempt cases in the state high court.
He said, “Imuse is an impostor. He is already facing contempt charges in the state high court and this will just be an addition to it. However, it seems to me that they have entered the road of no return and the next step will be destruction. They say who the gods want to kill they first make mad”
Also, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, said those calling for the expulsion of Obaseki were illegal occupiers of executive positions in the party.
When asked if Obaseki would quit APC, Osagie said, “This is a personal decision by him. In the coming days, he will let the world know the decision he has taken. He is still consulting far and wide. He is also going to have a meeting with the President on the matter.”
On his Twitter handle on Sunday, Obaseki told his supporters that he would reveal his next move after meeting Buhari.
“I will be making my next move known after I complete consultations with my supporters and meet with @MBuhari,” he wrote.
Soldiers who rescued kidnap kinpin, Wadume, attacked us with machine gun – Policeman [Punch]
A member of the Intelligence Response Team, ASP Felix Aidolije, who led the detectives that arrested a kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (Wadume), in Taraba State, has said soldiers commanded by Capt. Tijjani Balarabe fired at their vehicle with a machine gun.
Three policemen and two civilians died during the attack by the soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum.
The team leader said the soldiers who were in a Toyota Hilux chased them and fired several rounds which made their Toyota Hummer to somersault three times.
He further stated that a soldier shot at him as he crawled out of the crashed bus, adding that he pretended as if he was hit by the bullets.
The ASP stated these in his statement dated August 17, 2019, made to the Joint Investigation Panel set up by the Chief of Defence Staff.
The JIP included a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
The panel headed by Rear Admiral I. Olaiya probed the killing by the soldiers who also released Wadume on August 6, 2019.
Aidolije explained that his team had earlier identified themselves at three checkpoints manned by soldiers, riot and the conventional policemen while going to Ibbi to arrest Wadume.
The team leader stated that they picked up Wadume in Ibbi, in the midst of about 10 youths, adding that he simply followed them into the bus and was handcuffed and his legs chained.
As the operatives were returning from the operation, he said the soldiers at the checkpoint queried them about their trip, addind that the IRT told the soldiers that they were the police personnel who passed through earlier.
Aidolije stated, “One of the soldiers told us that ‘didn’t we know that the person (Wadume) in our bus is an influential man in Ibbi town,’ and I asked him to allow us to go because we are going far.
“As we passed the checkpoint, I saw a Toyota Picnic following us; next thing, I heard a gunshot and when I looked back, I saw a Hilux van mounted with a machine gun firing at us.
“It was then our vehicle somersaulted thrice, but the soldiers kept firing at us. It was by God’s grace that I crawled out of the vehicle and ran into the bush.
“I saw a soldier who fired at me, so I fell down; he thought I was hit by his bullets, but I crawled into the bush and ran. I saw one of my boys, Sgt. Emmanuel, and we hid till about 5:30 hours.”
The ASP added that they saw a motorcyclist who conveyed them to a village, but raised the alarm that they were kidnappers.
“The people started beating us with cutlasses; I brought out my ID card and one of them asked them to stop attacking us. The man took us to some mobile policemen on special duty around there. The policemen called a patrol vehicle from Area Command, Wukari, which took us to Wukari,” Aidolije said.
He disclosed that their service pistols and bags containing personal effects were stolen while the crashed vehicle was vandalised.
Wadume had in his statement identified 10 soldiers as his accomplices – Balarabe, Staff Sgt. David Isaiah, Sgt. Ibrahim Mohammed, Corporal Bartholomew Obanye, Private Mohammed Nura, Lance Corporal Okorozie Gideon, Corporal Markus Michael, L/Corporal Nvenaweimoeimi Akpagra, Staff Sgt. Abdullahi Adamu, and Private Ebele Emmanuel.
But the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had inexplicably dropped the soildiers’ names from the case, drawing outrage from Nigerians.
Obaseki to brief Buhari on next line of action, meets Gov Wike [Sun]
•Gov displayed executive rascality, says Oshiomhole
Beifoh Osewele and Romanus Ugwu, Abuja and Tony Osauzo, Benin
Amid speculations that he is on his way to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following his disqualification from the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary billed for June 22, Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said he would unveil his next line of action after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although he did not reveal when it would hold, he said he was also consulting with his supporters.
Two other aspirants, Chris Ogiemwonyi, former minister of state for works, and Matthew Iduoriyekenwen, former Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, were equally disqualified.
Writing via his Twitter handle yesterday, Obaseki described his disqualification as an act of injustice.
“I appreciate the sustained show of solidarity, support and goodwill from Edo people and Nigerians in the face of injustice by the @OfficialAPCNg screening committee.
“I will be making my next move known after I complete consultations with my supporters and meet with @MBuhari.”
A few hours after the tweet, he held a closed-door meeting with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State at Government House, Port Harcourt. Feelers from the meeting showed that the visit was not unconnected with his alleged plans to defect to the PDP and consequently run on its ticket.
The meeting with Governor Wike came on the heels of report that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar had told Obaseki to pursue his reelection bid on the platform of the main opposition party.
Atiku was also said to have discussed the issue with PDP governors to make way for Obaseki to get the party’s ticket.
The governor’s camp has insisted that he would contest the election slated for September 29.
Sources close to the PDP said the defection would be formalised in the next 72 hours.
Spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, did not rule out the possibility of welcoming the governor into its fold but declined to say if he would be handed the ticket.
Chairman of the screening committee, Jonathan Ayuba, had said Obaseki was disqualified over a “defective” certificate.
However, the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, claimed that fragrant display of executive rascality was also among the iniquities committed by Obaseki, which led to his disqualification.
Oshiomhole, while itemising the grounds for his disqualification from participating in the primaries, said, apart from the credibility doubt on the certificates he presented, he displayed executive rascality through his actions against the legislative arm.
“We have reviewed the two reports and note with satisfaction that all members of the committees were unanimous in their decisions. We had deliberately appointed men and women that are, in our judgement, not only knowledgeable in academic world but also in law, what our party, APC, stands for and our ideals.
APC govs launch operation rescue Obaseki, resolve Ondo crisis
Governors under the umbrella of Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) have concluded arrangements to wade into the disqualification of Governor Obaseki.
Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, also promised to intervene in the crisis rocking the party in Edo and Ondo states ahead of the governorship polls.
The governors in a statement issued after a virtual meeting on Saturday, expressed confidence that the party will resolve all current challenges and emerge stronger emerge stronger.
“We collectively agreed to work to ensure strengthening fair and democratic internal party mechanism for the selection of party candidates in all elections, especially in respect of Edo and Ondo states 2020 Governorship elections. We unanimously reaffirmed the commitment of all progressive governors to work for the unity of our party. Forum members are confident that the party will resolve all current challenges and emerge stronger emerge stronger.”
Factions seeks expulsion
Regardless, Edo State Working Committee of the party has recommended the expulsion of Governor Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua and Dr. Aisosa Amadasun.
Addressing journalists in Benin City, yesterday, acting Chairman of the party in Edo, Col. David Imuse (retd), justified the need for the expulsion saying “Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua and some other persons have gone to court in violation of Article 21, sub-section D5 of the APC Constitution in several court cases at Edo State High Court and Federal High Court. They have shopped for injunctions and rulings to circumvent the processes of law and provisions of our party constitution in defiance of democratic norms.
“In the light of this, the SWC of the APC in Edo State has recommended to the NWC that the following persons Godwin Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua and Dr. Aisosa Amadasun, should be expelled from the party for violating the provisions of our constitution.”
No missing N23bn in SDGs office- Presidency [Sun]
Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (OSSAP-SDGs) has dismissed claims that N23 billion was traced to the personal account of a former staff.
In a statement, the OSSAP-SDGs described the allegation as mischievous and unfounded.
“These reckless publications would have been wished away for what they evidently are but for the need to set the records straight and put an end to these mischievous publications. Therefore, OSSAP-SDGs wishes to categorically state that there is no N23 billion missing in the office. Indeed, appropriated and released funds to the office were judiciously utilised in the discharge of its mandate.
“On the transfer of staff from the office, it is pertinent to state that it is completely the prerogative and responsibility of the pool ministry or office to redeploy any of their staff seconded to any Ministry, Department or Agency in line with extant rules and guidelines. It is therefore misrepresentation of facts for anyone to interpret this as an attempt to cover-up. It must also be stated that the National Assembly amazed by the spurious allegations in the reports had also debunked insinuations that the allocation to OSSAP-SDGs in the 2020 budget was padded with the sum of N33 billion and absolved both the person of Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and OSSAP-SDGs of such financial impropriety.
“The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs is committed to the discharge of its core mandates, including President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption, and as such will not bow to pressure and distractions in the onerous task of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria. The public, therefore, is advised to disregard such publications as they are only designed to malign the office.”
The House Committee Chairman on SDGs, Rotimi Agunsoye, had debunked the claim saying “The House Committee on SDGs got records from the OSSAP-SDGs and appropriation committee which shows the said additional N33 billion was not appropriated for SDGs office among provisions of the 2020 budget earlier assented by Mr. President.”
Gunshots in Aso Rock: Buhari backs IGP on arrested ADC, others –Presidency [Sun]
The Presidency, yesterday, broke its silence over last Thursday night incident where the First Lady’s Aide-de-camp, Usman Shugaba, fired shots in an attempt to force President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant, Sabiu Yusuf, into self-isolation over COVID-19 fears.
It said the arrested officials were being investigated and the law should be allowed to take its course.
This is even as it assured that President Buhari was not at anytime in any form of danger arising either from Coronavirus infections or the reported incident in Aso Rock.
Trouble started when Yusuf, president’s nephew, returned to his residence at the precincts of the Presidential Villa, just outside the Pilot gate, after a trip to Lagos where he had gone to meet his wife who had just delivered a baby.
Citing COVID-19 protocols, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and three of her children, Zahra, Halima and Yusuf, accompanied by some of security aides led by the Aide-de-Camp, went to Yusuf’s residence and demand that he should self-isolate for 14 days, so as not to endanger the first family.
An altercation ensued which led to gunshots being fired at the Villa. Shugaba and other security aides were subsequently arrested and detained on the order of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu. It was learnt that a panel made up DIGs and AIGs has been inaugurated to investigate the matter.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement said the law should be allowed to take its course.
“The Presidency wishes to acknowledge concerns expressed by several members of the public regarding the recent incident among the occupants of the State House which escalation led to the arrest of some staff by the police. This is to assure all and everyone that the President Muhammadu Buhari, is not, and was not at anytime in any form of danger arising, either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation. This particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President.
“Armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House receive the necessary training of especially weapons handling and where they come short, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to immediately address them.
Having authorised the proper investigation to be carried out into this unfortunate incident by the Police, the President has acted in compliance with the rule of law. That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief. In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course,” Shehu said.
Mrs. Buhari had on Friday, called on the IGP to immediately release her aides who were reportedly detained based on the orders of the Chief Security Officer to the President, Idris Kassim.
She said their release was in order to avoid putting their lives in danger or exposure to COVID-19 while in custody.
The First Lady had also charged relevant government agencies to enforce the Quarantine Act signed by President Buhari in March and ensure no one is found violating it and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines.