Group laments breach of COVID-19 protocols in Emir of Zazzau’s burial

NEWS DIGEST – A group called the Anap Foundation Think Tank has called on the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to take urgent action against those breaching public gathering protocols.

The group in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Atedo N. A. Peterside CON; and Vice-Chairman, Abubakar Siddique Mohammed on Wednesday, said this in reaction to the large crowd that showed up at the burial ceremony of the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris.

The group lamented that while the outpouring of emotion evidenced by the huge crowds was understandable, it was evident that all public health rules were forgotten.

Thousands of sympathizers attended the funeral prayers of the late Emir of Zazzau on Sunday, at his palace in Zaria, Kaduna State.

He was buried inside the palace near the graves of his predecessors, after he died at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna following a brief illness.

The Anap Foundation Think Tank, therefore, called on the PTF, the Kaduna State Government, religious and political leaders, to urgently put in place clear strategies to prevent a recurrence.

Read the full statement below.

Press Release 08

Lagos, Nigeria. 23rd September, 2020

BREACHING OF FUNERAL AND PUBLIC GATHERING PROTOCOLS

The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank

(The Anap Think Tank) thanks the Almighty for the long life and reign of the revered Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris and condoles with the government and people of Kaduna State, Nigeria generally, and all his subjects, on the Emir’s passing.

The Anap Think Tank witnessed with deep concern the reports of the events surrounding the death and burial of the Emir in Zaria this week.

While the outpouring of emotion as evidenced by the huge crowds that spontaneously assembled around the palace is very understandable, given the high esteem in which the Emir was held, it was evident that all public health rules were forgotten.

This leaves room to ask what government could have done to anticipate and mitigate the risks such an assembly must raise in this period of pandemic.

The Anap Think Tank acknowledges the efforts of Kaduna State and its leadership in the area of nonmedical interventions especially in encouraging social distancing, hygiene and wearing of face coverings. We acknowledge the leadership by example set by its government.

This, however, makes the question more pertinent. If in a State where genuine efforts have been made to limit the spread of the disease in the community this dangerous event nevertheless occurred, then it highlights further the key importance of the authorities’ preparedness.

We therefore wish to flag this issue as one that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) should urgently address and put in place clear strategies to prevent such a recurrence.

The country is increasingly witnessing numerous incidences of social events where COVID-19 protocols are not being followed and a renewed clarification by the PTF would not be amiss at this time. We call on the PTF, the Kaduna State Government, and all concerned especially civic, political and religious leaders to take active steps to safely manage the crowds that are even now trooping daily to the palace for condolence visits.

As we watch the world slip in varying degrees into a steep second wave of infection, this is not the time for Nigeria to relax in her efforts at controlling disease spread. Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) is still our best remedy.

Radio jingles, posters, cartoons, information in the lorry parks, village squares, markets, schools, churches and mosques must be disseminated. The effort to achieve change in social and individual behaviour will need to be long-term and sustained.

Security and law enforcement personnel should also have regular re-training and clear guidelines on how best to anticipate and manage large social gatherings.

Nigeria is beginning to relax its lockdown further as schools resume, and public places of entertainment and worship have reopened to different extents.

This is the time to ensure that in those places and in those gatherings appropriate protocols are strictly adhered to. Covid-19 Still Has No Cure.

BCC remains our strongest weapon against COVID-19. We raise this issue now as the PTF’s continuous silence on this matter of large gatherings, such as witnessed in Zaria, is inappropriate given the need for their continued clear leadership at this present time.