President Muhammadu Buhari (in glasses, without a nose mask) with Other Party Faithful in Daura, Katsina State

Nigerians accuse Buhari of violating Protection Regulations as Presidency directs compliance with COVID-19 measures

*The Federal Government says the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe Coronavirus measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19

*COVID-19 regulation, which stipulates the compulsory wearing of nose mask and physical distancing in public, is being confronted with reports of open violation of the law by President Muhammadu Buhari ─Nigerians

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

While emphasising the application of non-pharmaceutical measures to curb further spread of the second wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Presidency has warned Nigerians to continue to observe the guidelines and protocols recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in order to avert fresh lockdowns.

Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said this in a statement Sunday, titled: “Presidency: Nigerians Should Comply With Mandatory Mask-Wearing To Avert Lockdowns.”

Shehu noted in the statement the Presidency is worried by reports of non-compliance with the regulations that make mask-wearing and observation of physical distancing in the public mandatory.


In appealing to Nigerians to cooperate with the government in ensuring the success of the policy, the presidential aide stated the Buhari administration introduced the order with the best of intentions and not with any motive to punish citizens.

The statement said: “The Buhari administration is most reluctant to lock down the country and continues to emphasise the non-pharmaceutical measures, and the only way to avert lockdowns is to observe these measures as put in place by the Presidential Task Force.

“Nigerians have come a long way from the dreaded lockdown and the administration is unhappy about any prospects of bringing it back as many citizens will not have food on the table without venturing out on a day-to-day business.

“Nigerians are required to wear masks, wash hands regularly with soap and clean water, and keep a safe distance with anybody not in your household, hoping that this will help check the spread of COVID-19.”

Shehu said: “Though vaccine availability is within reach, the propensity of the public for noncompliance weakens the fight against the virus.

“Nigerians must ignore baseless conspiracy theories that seek to deny the reality of the pandemic by complying with the order to wear masks.”

He also appealed to state governments, traditional rulers and religious leaders to play active roles in the sensitisation and enforcement of the regulations.

Likewise, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Saturday advocated the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021, while calling for full enforcement of the new law.

Prof. Innocent Ujah, President of NMA, in a chat with Vanguard as Nigeria awaits the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines sometime  February 2021, stated it is necessary for the country to focus more on what it has control over.

The NMA Chief stated: “While we wait for vaccines arrival, we should be talking about things we have control over like the non-pharmaceutical guidelines and not things we do not have control over.

“We should be talking to our government to ensure that we procure these vaccines and also ensure that awareness about the virus is created among our people and again, full implementation of the law is necessary.”

However, as the Presidency issued a statement that Nigerians have a duty to protect themselves and others in this difficult global health crisis last Saturday, opposition party Peoples Democratic Party same day equally accused Buhari of allegedly violating the COVID-19 regulations he signed the previous week.

ConsumerConnect reports the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021, Quarantine Act, Section 34 of the new law states that any offence under the regulations is punishable by a fine or a term of six months imprisonment or both.

The party in a statement unambiguously accused the President of violating the extant regulations on the use of nose masks and physical distancing Saturday, January 30, 2021, at Daura, in Katsina State, while participating in the All Progressives Congress membership registration and validation at the weekend.

In some of the pictures that surfaced online, Buhari was seen discussing with some of his party leaders at the revalidation of his APC membership at his country home of Daura without wearing a nose mask or maintaining physical distancing as stipulated in the new law he signed.

The party described the president’s action as “a huge national embarrassment and gross failure of leadership”.

It noted that Buhari, who ought to lead by example, is seen publicly violating the COVID-19 regulation, which he signed just days ago.

The party’s statement read: “It is indeed scandalous that while Nigerians are striving to obey the COVID-19 regulation, which stipulates the compulsory wearing of nose mask and physical distancing in the public, they are being confronted with reports of open violation of the law by Mr. President at the All Progressives Congress’ membership revalidation exercise in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State on Saturday.”

It noted: “We ask, with this violation, does the Buhari administration and its officials still have the rectitude to enforce sanctions on any other defaulter in the absence of necessary regrets by President Buhari and his party, the APC?

“In this regard, the onus lies on President Buhari and the APC to clean up the mess by tendering an unreserved apology to Nigerians and take steps to observe necessary regrets over this violation.”

Cross-sections of Nigerians who reacted to the images wondered why the President used the mask when he wanted to take pictures and later removed it at the same event Saturday.

Obong Ekpe, a Nigerian, commented on Twitter, that “laws of that nature are only made for the poor and less powerful people in the society especially in Nigeria.

“Police can’t arrest him but (they) will arrest me and you for committing exactly the same crime.”

@switcandyyy also said: “When the number one man in Nigeria doesn’t adhere to simple laid down laws, the laws that were also made by him, what do you expect from ordinary citizens? Commander-in-Chief of breaking of law and order.”

Udo Etuk @UdoetukN remarked that “there is no provision in the executive order for face mask removal while talking in public. Buhari has violated the law.”

@SsonofMan stated: “Buhari passed a law with a punishable offence of serving up to e months for failure to wear nose mask.

“Not wearing it here because others are wearing theirs doesn’t stop the fact that he broke his own law. He should be criticised.”

Additional reporting by Alexander Davis

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