President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday barred government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children from paying him Eid-el-Fitr homage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President said this was to prevent the spread of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
He explained that his decision complied with the safety measures put in place in the Federal Capital Territory to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
Buhari, who said he would spend the period at his residence with his family, also cited the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country, as well as measures introduced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19.
The President’s position was conveyed in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu.
It read, “With the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations around the corner and the month-long Ramadan fast coming to an end, President Muhammadu Buhari will be conducting his Eid prayers with his family at home.
“This is in observance of the lockdown measures in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, put in place ‘to save lives and protect people from all dangers.’
“This is also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country as well as the protocol against mass gathering issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“Further to this, the President, who has traditionally shared the joyous moment with top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children, will not be receiving this homage in a bid to stop the coronavirus from further spreading.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has urged residents, especially the Muslim faithful to observe the Eid-el Fitr prayers at home.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, said ‘this year’s Eid-el Fitr prayers would not hold on Eid-grounds across the FCT.”
That statement said, “This is in tandem with the guidelines, issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, that all places of worship in the FCT and other high risk states of the federation should remain closed during the recently extended period of lockdown.
“In order to achieve this objective of enforcing these guidelines in the FCT, meetings were held earlier between the administration and leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the League of FCT Imams.
“The meeting acknowledged that the primary concern of all leaders and public officials was to save lives.
“In view of this common goal, the leaders of the religious organisations have agreed to work towards the eventual opening up of worship places at a time to be determined by the Presidential Task Force, based on medical advice.”