Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Kaduna State government has imposed curfew throughout the state, following the non- compliance to certain measures that were earlier put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Deputy Governor Hadiza Balarabe warned that ‘’from midnight of Thursday, 26th March, all residents of Kaduna State must stay at home. No offices, businesses of any sort or places of worship are allowed to open.’’
The deputy governor who made this known on Thursday in the second state broadcast in two days, said that the decision was in line with the 1999 constitution.
According to her, the decision is ‘’in exercise of the powers vested in the Governor by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999, (as amended), Sections 2 and 8 of the Quarantine Act 1926 and the Kaduna State Public Health Law of 1917.’’
Dr Balarabe said Kaduna State has, therefore ‘’been declared a public health area. Coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19, is hereby declared as a dangerous, infectious disease within the meaning of the Quarantine Act.’
The deputy governor said that State Standing Committee on Covid-19 prevention met on Thursday to review global and national developments relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to her, ‘’the committee also considered reports of unsatisfactory compliance levels with the preventive measures that have been outlined by the government in repeated announcements, and with increasing severity, over the past seven days.’’
Dr Balarabe further said that apart from flouting the directive against large gatherings, ‘’there were also reports of certain persons not obeying the ban announced on motorcycle taxis and ‘Keke-Napep ’tricycles.’’
The deputy governor clarified that ‘’the only category of persons exempted are workers in essential services such as health workers, the fire service and security personnel.’’
Dr Balarabe warned that the curfew will be strictly enforced by the security agencies, adding that ‘’they have clear directives for the immediate arrest and prosecution of any person that violates these measures.
‘’Churches and mosques will be shut; there will no congregational prayers or services either within these places of worship or outdoors.
‘’Wedding events and all social gatherings are strictly prohibited while these emergency measures remain in place,’’ the deputy governor further warned.
Dr Balarabe said that ‘’any place of worship, event centre or place that hosts social gatherings will be in violation of its term of grant and therefore risks forfeiting its title and having the site of the offense removed.
‘’We recognise that Kaduna State is a transport hub. Therefore, transit through Kaduna will be allowed, provided that such vehicles ply only the Western bye-pass,’’ she clarified.
According to her, government recognises that this lockdown will consequences for everyone, but more so for the vulnerable persons in our communities.
‘’As indicated in previous statements, the government is procuring food and other supplies, funded from its contingency budget, to mitigate the challenges of a lockdown for such persons.
‘‘’These items will be distributed in community clusters across urban local government areas in the state. This will be a grassroots exercise, as it is people drawn from the target community that will constitute the committee to manage the distribution,’’ she explained.
Dr Balarabe said that the lockdown is necessary government doesn’t have the resources and the health facilities to cope with this pandemic should it reach Kaduna State.
‘‘The struggles of countries with much better health systems should offer a sobering lesson to anyone who seeks to minimise or trivialise the clear and present danger that we face,‘’ she added.
The deputy governor who assured that the lockdown is not scaremongering, argued that ‘’we are only observing our solemn obligation to let our people know the full facts, however unpleasant.‘’
She pointed out that ‘’it is much easier and cheaper to prevent this pandemic that to manage it.’’
Dr Balarabe expressed government’s gratitude that the federal authorities have responded to its persistent requests by suspending the Abuja-Kaduna train service, adding that ‘’we expect that this service will not resume until the Covid-19 pandemic is declared over.’’
The government also paid tribute to all the residents of state who have complied with public health advice and stayed home,” she further said.
‘’We thank the religious and community leaders, school proprietors, business owners and other citizens who have contributed to our campaign to protect our people from a virus that would easily overwhelm the health facilities and personnel in our state.’’
The deputy governor also expressed ‘’gratitude to persons who have reported specific suspected cases of Covid-19 infection in their communities or alerted our agencies to violations of the preventive measures.’’