The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, has apologised over violations that took place during the burial of the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, in Abuja on Saturday.
Mr Mustapha who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation says it is regrettable that social distancing was not observed during the burial.
He made the apology during the daily briefing by the task force.
“The PTF recognises, regrettably, the unintentional violation of the principles and protocols that form the core of our message to Nigerians at the funeral of the late chief of staff,” the SGF said.
“These principles, for emphasis, include the guidance provided on mass gatherings, social distancing, personal hygiene, and restriction of movement. Lessons have been learnt and appropriate measures have been taken to close all gaps.”
Many people have turned out for the burial of the late Kyari on Saturday, milling together for prayers and at his graveside.
The development sparked outrage among Nigerians as several guidelines put in place by the government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic were violated.
Many people took to social media to condemn the move and demand action with the Nigeria Centre For Disease Control putting out a message after the burial to remind people about the importance of avoiding mass gatherings.
The situation was worsened after a video emerged showing that one of the men who helped bury the SGF dumped his protective clothing in public. Amid calls for the man to be identified, isolated and prosecuted, the area was later decontaminated.
Mr Kyari, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s closes allies, had died on Friday after battling COVID-19 for more than two weeks. He was 67.
In apologising for the violations at his funeral, the SGF paid tribute to the late Kyari, saying, “He was fully committed to ensuring Nigeria responded effectively to the challenge of COVID-19 and he died in the line of duty.
“We will always remember his robust efforts, his dedication, and unwavering commitment to strengthening Nigeria’s capacity to manage the impact of this pandemic.”
In honour of Mr Kyari and all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19, Mr Mustapha said the task force has resolved to remain focused on the response to the pandemic.