Court hears suit against SGF, others over violation of COVID-19 protocols at Abba Kyari’s funeral

Abba Kyari's remains were brought in an ambulance to Gudu Cemetery in Abuja, where family members, as well as his colleagues, gathered to pay their last respect. [PHOTO: Sahara Reporters]

A Magistrates’ Court in Kado, Abuja, on Monday began hearings in a criminal complaint filed against federal government officials who attended the funeral of late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, Premium Times reports.

The complainant, Tope Akinyode, accused the defendants of violating the coronavirus protocols on April 18 during Mr Kyari’s burial.

Those charged include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who is also the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19; the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq.

Others are the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Moguno; the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai; the Chief Protocol Officer, Amb Lawal Kazaure; the President’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad; President’s Private Secretary, Yusuf Sabiu; Special Assistant to the President, Musa Daura; and the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Sani Aliyu.

None of them was in court on Monday when the registrar called their names.

VOICE AIR MEDIA reported that the large crowd of sympathisers turnout to breach the social distancing order of the Federal Government at the funeral and that generated arguments on social media.

After a backlash from Nigerians, Messrs Mustapha and Buni tendered apologies to Nigerians.

But Mr Akinyode argued that many citizens had been convicted for the same offence, hence, the top officials should face the law too.

The Magistrate, Celestine Odo, raised an observation that the criminal complaint was not signed by the complainant. But Mr Akinyode argued that the complaint can only be signed by the magistrate as the law does not mandate a complainant to sign a direct criminal complaint.

He said he filed an affidavit in compliance with Section 89 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which he duly signed. He argued that he had the liberty to commence the direct criminal complaint orally and the Magistrate or the Court Registrar must record him accordingly.

Following the argument, the magistrate adjourned the matter to August 4 for continuation.

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