Abba Kyari’s burial: Why I was locked outside Aso Rock- Garba Shehu

Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity has on Sunday, confirmed the report that he alongside some Presidential staff that attended the burial of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari on Saturday were stopped from entering the State House.

The late Chief of Staff who was buried on Saturday at the Gudu Cemetery in Abuja died from complications related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) infection and a number of presidency staff including Shehu, were in attendance.

The Presidential staff also were at the deceased residence, Defence Guest House in Maitama, Abuja for a brief prayers for the body of Kyari.

READ ALSO: How I met late Abba Kyari in 1977 -Geoffrey Onyeama

An online media platform had published that Mallam Shehu who was a close friend to the late Chief of Staff, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno, Chief Protocol Officer, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure,

Special Assistant to the President, Yusuf Sabiu (a.k.a Tunde) a nephew to the President, Musa Haro Daura were denied access to the State House.

Others were the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Mr. Ahmad Rufai, and Personal Assistant on New Media to President Buhari, Bashir Ahmed, among other.

Their presence at the burial ceremonies was said to have violated the strict protocols established by the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) for interring a COVID-19 victim.

There is insinuations linking the alleged internal problems between some highly placed members of the first family and the late Chief of Staff as the reason behind the action.

But the Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu has explained that stopping those that attended the burial rites from entering the State House was in line with the standard procedures to fight the spread of the dreaded pandemic.

Shehu explained in a series of tweets on his handle @GarShehu: “There is nothing extraordinary about those of us who attend Abba Kyari’s funeral being advised to distance ourselves from the.

“This is in line with the standard rules put in place by the National Center for Disease Control, @NCDCgov and the Federal Ministry of Health. You do these things to stop the spread of #Coronavirus.

“For the most part, the Villa has operated digitally in the last few weeks. So, there is really nothing new to this.”

He had also in a chat earlier on the access denial, said: “It is true. It’s nothing that anyone should be angry about. They were just to obey rules. We have all attended the burial of a close friend in this season, anyone will know that after such occasion, you are meant to proceed on self-isolation. So what happened was standard protocol.

“If you observed, we have mostly been working digitally, most of our works have been done digitally, in observance of the social distance advice.”

Despite the federal government previously announcing that the bodies of COVID-19 victims would not be released to their relatives for burial, the late Chief of Staff, who died in a Lagos hospital on Friday, was flown to Abuja of Saturday for his final rites in accordance with Islamic rites.

There was outrage particularly on the social media on Saturday as pictures emerged of mourners thronging Kyari’s prayers and burial site without regard for social distancing to check the spread of coronavirus.

But President Muhammadu Buhari has banned all condolence visits to the residence of the late Chief of Staff and even to the Presidency. The action was to contain the spread of the virus and ensure compliance to the social distancing protocol.

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