The Presidency on Saturday said there was nothing it could do to bar the crowd who thronged the Gudu Cemetery, Abuja to pay their last respects to the late Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Independent, Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity said they never invited the public to the funeral and couldn’t have invited soldiers to flog those who have come to pay their last respect to deceased.
He added that in their bid to ensure crowd control and social distancing, the burial was delayed and they had to proceed as more people kept trooping to the cemetery.
“Was there any invitation for the public to come for the burial? Go back to my Twitter handle and read what I posted. From 10am, when we picked up the body at the airport, we sent a message out that the funeral will be private and that the public should please go and pray for Abba Kyari”.
“We also said no condolence visits to the President and family. What can we do? Are we going to invite soldiers to flog people who came to pay their last respect to the man?”
“We didn’t invite people. We were trying to move people back and observe social distancing and it was delaying the funeral. We just have to do it because people are not ready to leave. What are we going to do?” he asked.
Shehu, in a series of tweets on Saturday, shortly after the remains of Kyari arrived at the Defence House in Abuja for his burial had said “We just received the body of Abba Kyari, the deceased Chief of Staff the President in Abuja”.
“In strict observation of the protocol put in place for the burial of Coronavirus victims by the NCDC, and the Federal Ministry of Health, the funeral prayer and burial will be private.
“Thereafter, there will be no such ceremonies as condolence visits.
“Well-meaning friends, family members and the general public are encouraged to pray for the repose of Abba Kyari’s soul,”.