A Criminal complaint against 12 of the President’s appointees who attended the funeral of his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, in alleged violation of Covid-19 protocols, commenced at the Magistrates’ Court, Kado, Abuja, on Monday.
However, none of the appointees, who attended Kyari’s burial on April 18, 2020, was present when their names were called out by the court registrar.
They include: The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who is also the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19; the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq.
Others who were accused of attending the burial include- the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Moguno; the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai; the Chief Protocol Officer, Amb Lawal Kazaure; and the President’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad.
The President’s Private Secretary and nephew, Yusuf Sabiu aka Tunde; Special Assistant to the President, Musa Daura; and the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, were also joined in the suit.
At the commencement of the case, Chief Magistrate Celestine C.M Odo ordered the court registrar to call out all the names of the defendants sequentially so that they could properly identify themselves.
Chief Magistrate Odo observed that the criminal complaint was not signed by the complainant. However, human rights lawyer, Tope Akinyode, argued that the complaint is required to be signed only by the magistrate and there is no provision of the law mandating the complainant to sign the direct criminal complaint.
Akinyode said he filed an affidavit in compliance with Section 89 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which he duly signed.
The lawyer said that the law did not even require a direct criminal complaint to be in writing by law. Akinyode said pursuant to Section 89 (1) of the ACJA, he had the liberty to commence the direct criminal complaint orally and the Magistrate or the Court Registrar must record him accordingly.
After the argument, the magistrate adjourned the matter till August 4, 2020, on his ruling on the matter and the continuation of the case.
At the burial of the late Kyari, the social distancing directive of the Federal Government was not observed at the event, sparking criticisms from Nigerians.
But the SGF who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 apologised to Nigerians.
However, activist lawyer, Akinyode, instituted a case against the President’s appointees, insisting that Nigerians have been convicted and even given jail terms for flouting the government’s lockdown order and congregating and the President’s appointees ought not to be spared.