Kaduna State Government has imposed a curfew throughout the state, following the noncompliance to certain measures that were earlier put in place to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
The Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, who made this known on Thursday, in her 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 Nigeria 1999, (as amended), Sections 2 and 8 of the Quarantine Act 1926 and the Kaduna State Public Health Law of 1917.”
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 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.”
She further stated 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 warned that “from midnight of Thursday, March 25, 2020, all residents of Kaduna State must stay at home. No offices, businesses of any sort, or places of worship are allowed to open.”
She clarified that “the only category of persons exempted are workers in essential services such as health workers, the fire service and security personnel.”
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.”
She added: “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.
“Any place of worship, event centre or place that hosts social gatherings will be in violation of its term of the grant and therefore risks forfeiting its title and having the site of the offence 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.”
Balarabe said the state government recognises that this lockdown will have consequences for everyone, but more so for the vulnerable persons in the 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 said.
The Deputy Governor said the lockdown was necessary because the government doesn’t have the resources and the health facilities to cope with the 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.
Balarabe who assured that the lockdown was 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 the pandemic than to manage it.
She 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 Deputy Governor also paid tribute to all the residents of the state who have complied with public health advice and stayed home, saying “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.”
“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,” she added.