THE Presidency on Sunday defended the prevention of its senior officials who attended the burial of Mallam Abba Kyari from accessing the State House.
It described the action as “standard protocol.”
It said those affected needed not be angry since the action did not stop them from carrying out their officials duties “digitally.”
The stay “away order” has also been extended to State House correspondents and media officers in the Presidency who covered the burial of Kyari, who until his death on Friday was President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff.
The top Villa officials were turned back for violating the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) protocols, especially social distancing.
According to the report, among those who attended the ceremonies and were turned back from accessing the State House were State House Chief Protocol Officer Ambassador Lawal Kazaure; the Special Assistant to the President, Yusuf Sabiu; a nephew to the President, Musa Haro Daura, and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Others are the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Mr Ahmad Rufai, the Personal Assistant on New Media to the President, Bashir Ahmed, among others.
Video clips of the interment on Saturday and the prayers at his former official residence have continued to raise concerns among Nigerians, who expressed worry that social distancing was not observed.
Mallam Shehu, said it was true that the top officials were barred from the Villa.
He said the security operatives were observing standard security protocol.
According to him, those who attended the event were supposed to proceed on self-isolation immediately.
He said: ”It is true. It’s nothing that anyone should be angry about. They(security operatives) were just obeying 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.”
Minutes after the conversation with The Nation, Mallam Shehu left the same clarification on his Tweeter handle:
He wrote: ”There is nothing extraordinary about those of us who attend Abba Kyari’s funeral being advised to distance ourselves from the Villa.
“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.”
Also on Sunday, The Presidency stepped up the health security protocol for State House correspondents and staff of its Media Department by directing those who attended Kyari’s burial to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Deputy Director of Information in the State House, Attah Esa, said in a message to the correspondents and the officials, that they should work from home.
He said: “As a precautionary measure, all State House correspondents and media office staff, who covered/attended the funeral prayer/burial of the late Chief of Staff, at Defence House and Gudu Cemetery, Abuja, respectively, are strongly advised to work from home for the next 14 days.
“Please be careful to observe the recommended measures to prevent the coronavirus transmission, including maintaining physical distancing and good personal hygiene.”