The Chairman of the Bwari branch of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja, Mr Clement Chukwuemeka, and three others have sued the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, for the alleged violation of the COVID-19 regulations and protocols during the burial of Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/462/2015 was filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja on April 30, by Chukwuemeka, two other lawyers – Olalekan Oladapo and Raphael Ogbe – as well as a civil society group, Wheel of Hope Human Rights Foundation.
Other defendants joined along with Buhari and Mustapha in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Information.
The plaintiffs alleged that the handling of the burial of the presidential top aide violated the COVID-19 Regulations issued by Buhari and the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and the NCDC.
Kyari, 67, died of complications related to the COVID-19 on April 17 and was buried at the Gudu Cemetery in Abuja the next day.
The burial drew a large crowd, including top government officials who reportedly failed to observe the recommended social distancing measures.
The development sparked concerns about the possibility of an escalation of the spread of the dreaded COVID-19.
Members of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 had apologised for the breach of the regulations and protocols at the burial.
The plaintiffs alleged that Buhari, Mustapaha, who is the Chairman of the PTF and other defendants failed to ensure public safety during the burial.
They alleged that the defendants also failed to abide by the provisions of the law and guidelines in respect of COVID-19 lockdown, stressing that they endangered people in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by their action.
The plaintiffs also recalled how a Lagos-based actress, Funke Akindele, and Abdulrashid Bello were arrested, prosecuted, fined N100,000 each by the court and given 14 days’ community service for violating the stay-at-home and social distancing orders in Lagos.
They noted that over 1,000 persons had been arrested and tried in the FCT, for similar breaches, insisting that “Nigerians expect that having used certain persons as scapegoats, no one should be spared and no one is a sacred cow.”
They also wondered why Kyari’s corpse “was released to his family for burial in the first place, contrary to the claim by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a forum organised by the News Agency of Nigeria on April 3.”
According to the plaintiffs, the minister had said that “bodies of COVID-19 victims cannot be claimed for burial/internment due to their contagious nature’.”