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Nigerian president’s top aide dies of coronavirus: Presidency

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the presidency said on Saturday. Buhari’s office announced in a statement that it “regrets to announce the passage” of Abba Kyari, who acted as gatekeeper to the president of Africa’s most populous nation. More: Nigeria extends coronavirus lockdown in key cities…

Nigerian president’s top aide dies of coronavirus: Presidency

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the presidency said on Saturday.
Buhari’s office announced in a statement that it “regrets to announce the passage” of Abba Kyari, who acted as gatekeeper to the president of Africa’s most populous nation.
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“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020,” the statement said. 
“May God accept his soul.”
Kyari, in his 70s, was the highest-profile COVID-19 death in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Influential technocrat
The influential technocrat, who was reported to have suffered from underlying health issues, was seen as one of the dominant figures in the tight-knit group of advisers around Buhari.
He reportedly controlled access to the president, a 77-year old former military ruler now in his second term as democratically elected leader, overseeing key meetings and granting audiences.
Kyari tested positive for coronavirus in late March after visiting Germany, forcing a string of top Nigerian officials who had been in contact with him to self-quarantine.
In a statement released on March 29, Kyari said he had been transferred to Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, for private medical treatment and hoped “to be back at my desk very soon”.
There has been no official confirmation on whether Buhari has taken a test, but the president has since made repeated televised speeches imposing restrictions to curb the spread the virus.
The central government has imposed a lockdown on Nigeria’s economic hub Lagos and capital Abuja, while state governors have ordered a number of measures in other regions.
Economic consequences
The extension of the lockdown is expected to add to the hardship of millions of Nigerians living hand-to-mouth, often on less than one dollar a day.
Buhari said on Monday he was “fully aware of the great difficulties experienced especially by those who earn a daily wage”.
“But despite these realities, we must not change the restrictions,” he added.
The government has pledged a series of support measures to ease the financial pain for the most vulnerable, but there have been widespread complaints that not enough is being done for those facing hunger.
“The vast majority of Nigerians depend on daily wages, they have to go out to get money and buy food to put it on the table for their families,” Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital, Abuja, said.
“For the next two weeks, they are going to stay at home with no work and no chance of getting money.”
Experts say the country of 200 million is highly vulnerable to the spread of the disease given its weak healthcare system and high population density.
 The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday that Africa has now more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19
A total of 52 of the continent’s 54 countries have reported the coronavirus, with the overall number of cases more than 19,800.
The World Health Organization on Friday noted a 51% increase in cases in Africa and a 60% jump in deaths in the past week. But the WHO chief warned that because of a shortage of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.”
The Africa CDC has said more than 1 million test kits will be rolled out starting next week.

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Nigerian security forces kill 18 during curfew enforcement

At least 18 people in Nigeria have been killed by security forces during the enforcement of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, a figure higher than the documented toll inflicted by the disease, the country’s human rights body said. In a report released late on Wednesday, the National Human Rights Commission said it had…

Nigerian security forces kill 18 during curfew enforcement

At least 18 people in Nigeria have been killed by security forces during the enforcement of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, a figure higher than the documented toll inflicted by the disease, the country’s human rights body said.
In a report released late on Wednesday, the National Human Rights Commission said it had received and documented “105 complaints of incidents of human rights violations perpetuated by security forces” in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja, the capital.
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Of these complaints, “there were eight documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths”, it said.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja, said “eight of those killed were by correctional officers in the northwest Kaduna state. The police were accused of killing seven and the army were allegedly responsible for two deaths. A local committee enforcing the lockdown in the southeast was responsible for killing one individual.”
The commission noted the tally of killings was higher than the recorded toll from COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus – according to official figures, the country has registered  more than 400 confirmed cases, including 12 deaths.
“Law enforcement agents extrajudicially executed 18 persons in the cause of the enforcement regulations,” it said.
It accused the security agents of “excessive or disproportionate use of force, abuse of power, corruption and non-adherence to national and international laws, best practices and rules of engagement.”
“Security forces in Nigeria have been accused severally by individuals of harassment during the lockdown in several states. We’ve seen security officers mounting roadblocks, checking cars, identities and there reports from various parts of the country alleging that several abuses have been carried out by these security officers. Apart from the usual demand for bribes, people were harassed,” Idris added.
Nigeria has imposed a total lockdown in Abuja, the commercial capital Lagos, and neighbouring Ogun state. It has also set restrictions in other regions in a bid to contain the virus.

A member of the Nigerian army performs a temperature check on a visitor at the entrance of the Nigerian Army Hospital in Lagos [George Osodi/Bloomberg 

Security forces, including police and the army, have been deployed to enforce the restrictions, sparking deadly confrontations in some states.
Police spokesman Frank Mba told the AFP news agency that police authorities would not condone any abuses or infractions against its officers, adding that recently an officer who extorted money from a civilian was punished and made to refund it to the owner.
He said the police would continue to enforce the lockdown measures “professionally and in line with international best practices”.
Local and international rights bodies have long accused Nigerian security forces of abuses against civilians, but they have denied the charges.
There have been growing fears of a rise in crime and unrest due to the virus restrictions, especially in Lagos, as millions of people living in poverty have been cut off from vital income.
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