Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
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, 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, the chief magistrate, Celestine Odo, ordered the court registrar to call out all the names of the defendants sequentially so that they could properly identify themselves.
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 was 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 magistrate adjourned the matter till August 4, 2020 for 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, sparking criticisms from Nigerians.
Akinyode instituted a case against the President’s appointees, insisting that Nigerians had been convicted and even given jail terms for flouting the government’s lockdown order, adding that the President’s appointees ought not to be spared.