Kyari was laid to rest at the Gudu cemetery in Abuja on Saturday, April 18, 2020, after passing on from novel coronavirus (Covid-19) complications on Friday, April 17.
Nigerians were left fuming at the number of dignitaries who showed up at the cemetery to bid Kyari farewell, in flagrant disregard for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines on funerals during the pandemic.
Burying Covid-19 corpses during the pandemic
“Although burials should take place in a timely manner, in accordance with local practices, funeral ceremonies not involving the burial should be postponed, as much as possible, until the end of the pandemic,” the NCDC says.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed had also announced that “Nigerians should not forget that this is not the type of corpses (Covid-19 corpses) that can be claimed for burial because it must be handled by the Ministry of Health.”
A crowd showed up at the cemetery to bury Abba Kyari (Punch)
There was little regard for social distancing at the funeral, a scenario that was not lost on social media users who wondered why there was even a crowd at the cemetery.
Among the crowd that thronged the cemetery to pay last respects to Kyari was presidency spokesperson Shehu.
Shehu would go on to ironically deliver a lecture on obeying health protocols like ‘social distancing’ during a contagious pandemic–at the funeral.
Shutting out the aides
Online news platform Sahara Reporters had reported that “some top aides” of the president were denied access to the presidential villa in Abuja “after returning from the burial of late Chief of Staff to Buhari, Abba Kyari, on Saturday.
“The burial at Gudu cemetery was attended by a large crowd – most of whom had no nose masks or hand gloves on them for protection against coronavirus.”
The report would go on to list the top aides who were shut out of the nation’s number one address for attending the funeral as “State House Chief Protocol Officer, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, Special Assistant to the President, Yusuf Sabiu, a nephew to the President, Musa Haro Daura, and Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu.”
In a couple of tweets to shed some light on the development, Shehu said “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 NCDC 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.”
The latest Covid-19 numbers
It’s been tough getting Nigeria’s elite, celebrities and politically exposed persons to obey the NCDC guidelines on ‘social distancing’ and ‘large gatherings’ since the index Covid-19 case was diagnosed in Africa’s most populous nation on February 27, 2020.
The novel coronavirus has infected 541 people in Nigeria so far. 166 have recovered from the disease. There have been 19 deaths.
Globally, over 2 million people have contracted the virus with over 170,000 deaths recorded.