Buhari advises against disobeying lockdown orders

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has advised Nigerians against disobedience to the lockdown imposed on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states.

He also urged the people to comply with the restriction directive to defeat the coronavirus, while promising more interventions for vulnerable citizens.

Buhari had on March 29 ordered a lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states for an initial period of 14 days. Several other states had put in place similar restrictions to curb COVID-19 spread.

The President, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Saturday, appreciated Nigerians for their patience, resolve and strong determination to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, at present, there would be sons and daughters unable to visit their parents, elders that were isolated from young ones, and those who lived day-to-day, “eating as they earned,” who were facing “real and present suffering.”

The statement read, “But we must ask you, once more, to observe restrictions on movement where they are in place, and follow the instructions of our scientists and medical advisers: stay home, wash your hands, save lives.

“The freedom we ask you to willingly forsake today will only last as long as our scientific advisers declare they are necessary. But they are essential, world over, to halt and defeat the spread of this virus.

“For those who suffer most egregiously, the government has announced multiple measures to assist: 70,000 tonnes of grain are being released from the National Strategic Grain Reserves for distribution to those in most  need; distribution of small cash payments are also being made and will continue to be made by the Federal Government in the states and local government areas.”

The President appealed to members of the public to listen to and follow public announcements via the mass media for instructions as to how to receive government support, and learn of more public assistance in the coming days.

Strategic Grain Reserves for distribution to those in most  need; distribution of small cash payments are also being made and will continue to be made by the Federal Government in the states and local government areas.”

The President appealed to members of the public to listen to and follow public announcements via the mass media for instructions as to how to receive government support, and learn of more public assistance in the coming days.

The statement further quoted Buhari as saying, “All that the government is asking you to endure is because nowhere in the world today is there any known way of defeating this pandemic. There is no vaccine. And that means there are choices to be made: between continuing as usual and accepting the restrictions even when they come with unintended consequences.

“But at this darkest hour, it remains our duty to offer you the full and unvarnished truth: this is a global pandemic – 210 countries and territories across the globe are affected. We cannot expect others to come to our assistance. No one is coming to defeat this virus for us.

“Instead, the defeat of the virus in our country will be in our hands, alone. We cannot wait for others. We can only depend on ourselves now. And so we must  – and we will – end this outbreak ourselves as Nigerians.”

PDP, ADC, CAN, NSCIA back lockdown extension, seek more palliatives

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, African Democratic Congress, Christian Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs have expressed support for the possible extension of the lockdown if it is inevitable to stop the further spread of the deadly virus in some states in Nigeria.

The spokespersons for the PDP and the ADC, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan and Mrs Yemi Kolapo, respectively, in separate interviews with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday, said their parties were not opposed to an extension of the lockdown if it was unavoidable.

Ologbondiyan, however, called on the Federal Government to, in a transparent manner, provide “tangible and substantial” palliatives to the vulnerable groups to cushion the harsh effect of the lockdown.

He stated that many Nigerians relied on daily earnings to survive, adding that extending the lockdown without providing substantial palliatives could be resisted by the poor, who might not want to die of hunger.

He said, “The PDP has never been opposed to a lockdown. Our candid position is that the government should provide palliatives because the majority of Nigerians are in the informal sector. They are the tomato sellers, the Uber drivers, motorcycle and tricycle riders, vulcanisers and the mechanics. They run our economy. And as such, we ask the Federal Government to provide a means of sustaining this group of Nigerians who run our economy for the period during which they have been forced to stay at home and have been denied their means of survival.

“But what did you get? You find a situation where a loaf of bread is being given to a household of 10 people and a cup of rice is being given to breadwinners to go and feed their families. Nigerians are becoming scared, they are worried and they are afraid that it appears that they are being driven away or shielded from coronavirus only to be killed by ‘hunger-virus.’ That is the issue. Our position is that the Federal Government must have a holistic approach to fighting coronavirus. If you ask the people to stay at home, then you must provide palliatives. They must provide incentives that will keep them at home.

“We are not opposed to an extension of the lockdown if, in the wisdom of the Federal Government, it will help in reducing the coronavirus.”

Also, Kolapo urged the people to fully comply with the Federal Government if it decided to extend the lockdown, adding that it was better to have a firm strategy that would curtail the spread of the virus than a soft approach that might escalate it.

She called for collaborative and concerted efforts of all Nigerians to fight against COVID-19, adding that this was not the time to play politics.

She said, “Every small business is losing but that will be small to what will happen to the economy if the disease spreads further. It will be pathetic!”

Also, Christians in the country have been urged not to congregate during the Easter celebration to curb the spread of the disease.

The President of CAN, Rev Supo Ayokunle, gave the advice during a live interview with the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State which was monitored by one of our correspondents on Saturday.

Ayokunle said, “I tag the Easter celebration of this year an unusual leap Easter. What is happening is beyond our control because COVID-19 is a rude virus; it is not a respecter of anybody, whether young or old, wise or foolish, black or white. It doesn’t even respect how advanced your nation is. Both the developed and developing nations are cringing under the pandemic.

“The Holy Bible says there is time for everything; there is a time to embrace and a time to cease from embracing in order to come back to embrace. That is what we are doing now because if we are not wise, we might all be consumed. Though God has not promised to destroy our world with the disease, it (COVID-19) can wreak havoc on families beyond human imagination.

“Before COVID-19 would kill many of our loved ones, we need to join hands together to kill it by abstaining from fellowship at this time. It is my hope that if we are obedient to bear the pain – it is a very short pain ­­– we would be able to enjoy our togetherness for many years to come.”

Meanwhile, the NSCIA, under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar lll, on Saturday warned against the reopening of churches and mosques in contravention of the directive of the Federal Government.

The NSCIA also faulted moves by some governors who, it said, were trying to order the reopening of religious centres in some parts of the country amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The Director of Administration in NSCIA, Yusuf Chinedozi Nwoha, said these in Abuja during the distribution of palliatives to 90 households in Mpape area of the FCT.

The palliatives comprised food items such as rice, beans, garri, groundnut oil, sugar, salt and handwashing soap.

Lagos records two new deaths

In a sad development, Lagos State on Saturday recorded two new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to five.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, announced the development on his Twitter handle, @ProfAkinAbayomi.

He said, “We are, however, saddened by the death of another patient from COVID-19-related complications in a private hospital in Lagos.”

Also, a 37-year-old new mother has died of COVID-19 at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja.

The death, according to a source at LASUTH, occurred on Saturday morning.

The source said the patient was delivered of her baby at the Alimosho General Hospital but that the woman developed an infection in the course of the childbirth and was subsequently brought to LASUTH, where she was placed on admission for medical treatment.

The source told one of our correspondents that the late patient’s result confirmed her COVID-19 status after she had passed on.

The source said, “The result came out after she had died, but we had suspected after she came in. So, every precaution was taken by all the workers who attended to her.

“She had a baby outside LASUTH (at another hospital). She was brought in as an emergency patient from Alimosho General Hospital with infection.

“She had a baby but she developed an infection. Then, it was noticed that her blood sugar was very high and she had a cough and fever and we suspected it might be coronavirus.

“So, we sent (her samples) for testing and kept on managing (her), with universal precautions being taken.

“Unfortunately, the mortality rate of infection after (child) delivery is very high.

“She was 37-years-old and she died this morning (Saturday).”

Lagos, FCT, Osun discharge 18

But on a positive note, Lagos and Osun state governments as well as the FCT have discharged 18 COVID-19 patients from their isolation centres.

While Lagos State and the FCT discharged four patients each, Osun State discharged 10.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said via his verified Twitter handle @jidesanwoolu on Saturday that the state discharged the four patients after they tested negative to the contagion.

The governor said four male patients, including an 11-year-old boy, were discharged from the facilities to reunite with the society.

Also, the FCT Administration said four patients were discharged in Abuja.

The FCTA, in a tweet on Saturday, said, “The FCTA has confirmed the discharge of four #COVID-19 patients, bringing the total number of discharged to 11 in the FCT as at 12:30 am, April 11, 2020.”

Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, also on Saturday said 10 coronavirus patients were discharged in the state.

Those discharged were among the 17 returnees from Côte d’Ivoire who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 28.

Addressing journalists in Osogbo, Oyetola said those that were discharged had tested negative twice for the virus.

Kaduna, Kano, Delta confirm new cases

Meanwhile, Kaduna, Kano and Delta states have confirmed one fresh case each of COVID-19.

While Kaduna recorded one case to bring the number of cases to six, Delta’s new case brought the number of cases to three. Kano recorded its first case.

In a statement on Saturday, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Mohammed-Baloni, said the latest case had no connection with the first five cases.

She said the new case was a male who worked as a gateman in Mando and recently returned from Lagos, noting that the incident could lead to possible community transmission of the COVID-19 in the state.

“The sixth case had travelled to Kaduna by public transport and made contact with the authorities as his symptoms worsened. The patient has been evacuated to the state’s Infectious Disease Centre,” Baloni said in a statement on Saturday.

She added, “It is very difficult and complicated to trace the contacts of a patient who came from Lagos via public transport and has had some instance of local commuting since his arrival.

Also, the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, confirmed one COVID-19 case in the state on Saturday.

Okowa, via his Twitter handle, @IAOkowa, said, “We have just confirmed the third case of #COVID-19 in Delta State. The patient, a male, was diagnosed today in Asaba, our state capital, and is currently being managed by our health care professionals in one of our isolation centres.”

Meanwhile, Kano State has recorded its first coronavirus case.

The Public Relations Officer at the state Ministry of Information, Hadiza Namadi, confirmed the development.

But the Special Assistant on Media to the Governor, Salihu Tanko-Yakasai, said the index case arrived in Kano from Abuja before the closure of the state border.

“Kano has recorded its first case of COVID-19 in the state. The index case lives around UDB (Urban Development Board) Road. He returned from Abuja on the eve of the border closure in the state.

“All those close to him have been tested and are awaiting results. He is currently at the Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Centre,” he said.

Akeredolu, Wike make a U-turn, cancel Easter services

Ondo and Rivers state governments on Saturday announced the cancellation of the Easter Sunday church services which they had earlier granted.

Ondo State made the U-turn following the confirmation of a second case of COVID-19 in the state.

The government had earlier lifted the ban placed on the restriction of movement in the state to enable the Christians to worship in their churches on Easter Sunday.

This had followed an agreement reached between the state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, and the leadership of CAN in the state.

But in a statement by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Donald Ojogo, on Saturday, the government said there would be no church service on Easter Sunday. It said all Christians should worship in their houses.

According to the statement, the government said the emergence of the second COVID-19 case in the state had once again reinforced the need to “deepen our collective efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Also, Rivers State had in March asked churches to restrict the number of worshippers to 50.

But the state government on Thursday temporarily relaxed the restriction on large religious gatherings to enable Christians to carry out their religious obligations during the Easter period.

The state Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the directive also permitted Muslims to observe their Jumat within the period.

However, making a U-turn, the government said in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Paulinus Nsirim, that the state government had cancelled the concession earlier granted churches to hold full Easter church service.

The statement read, “The Rivers State Government has cancelled the concession granted churches to hold Easter church services with their full congregations.

“This decision was taken after due consultations with eminent clergymen, well-meaning Nigerians and civil society groups.”

Anambra, Niger impose fresh two-week lockdown

In a related manner, Anambra and Niger states have declared a fresh lockdown for 14 days in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Declaring the new lockdown, the Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, said this followed the recording of the index case in the state on Friday.

Before the governor’s announcement of complete restriction of movement in the state, there had been partial lockdown as a result of the pandemic.

The governor in a broadcast to the people of the state on Saturday ordered law enforcement agencies to arrest those who violate the “no movement order.”

He said, “The restriction on movement is hereby extended by two weeks. This time, we are placing a comprehensive lockdown on Anambra State. We shall not tolerate any movement across the state by individuals and groups.

“Only people on essential services are permitted to move round in the delivery of those services to the people.”

Similarly, the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, on Saturday imposed a total lockdown on the state for two weeks beginning from the midnight of Sunday, April, 12, following the discovery of one case of COVID-19 in the Limawa area of Minna, the state capital.

Bello further directed that Limawa community people be completely isolated from the rest of the public for two weeks.

“The decision to lock down the state was arrived at after a joint emergency meeting of the state executive council with the COVID-19 task force to review the situation and stop further spread of the coronavirus,” he said.

He added that the two weeks lockdown was subjected to review if the need arose, stressing that window had been created within the lockdown for the people to purchase their domestic needs.

He said April 16, 20, 23 and 27 had been set aside to give people the opportunity to buy essential goods.

He said April 16, 20, 23 and 27 had been set aside to give people the opportunity to buy essential goods.

Meanwhile, the Joint National Association of Persons with Disability on Saturday called on the federal and state governments to provide special palliatives for people living with disability.

The group in a statement by its women leader, Kwara State chapter, Mrs Joy Bolarin, also alleged that the government had not provided them with palliatives during the ongoing lockdown.

She stated that they had been exposed to hardship since the lockdown started, adding that those they depended on for assistance had been observing physical distance, while they had been left on their own.
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