Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Military authorities thursday denied any plans to enforce a nationwide lockdown friday.
It said media reports to that effect were speculative and unfounded.
Some reports had claimed the Nigerian Army via a memo issued to army formations was preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce curbs on movement to try to shield the country from the COVID-19 and is leasing equipment for “possible mass burial,”according to an army memo seen by Reuters.
But a statement issued by the Nigerian Army Headquarters said such publication was “false, vexatious” and designed to cause chaos.
“It has come to the notice of the Nigerian Army and the general public some misleading publications in a section of the media with the title: ‘Federal Government to Enforce Military Lockdown on Friday.’
“The Nigerian Army wishes to dissociate itself from such false, speculative and vexatious publication designed by certain mischievous elements to create chaos, panic and disaffection in the society that could only serve the ulterior motives of its promoters,” it said.
The statement signed by Army spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said the document in question was a proactive directive for the army to prepare for possible escalation of the pandemic.
“To put the record straight, the document being quoted was a proactive directive for the Nigerian Army to prepare for possible escalation of the COVID -19 based on the happenings around the world on the pandemic.
“The misinterpretation that government is locking down the entire country and pulling out the Army by Friday, March 27, 2020 is utterly false and baseless”, it said.
Musa said “the Nigerian Army considers the publication and negative interpretation being given the content of the classified document containing information meant for the Nigerian Army personnel as a violation of the official Secret Act.
“The NA will continue to be professional, proactive and responsive in support of the constitution, democracy and government of Nigeria in line with its constitutional mandate of providing aid to civil authority when called upon to do so”.
The statement said the Army would leave no stone unturned to prepare to support the civil authority in times of emergencies of national magnitude.
“The mischief of some unpatriotic few will not dissuade the Nigerian Army from working with sister services, the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to keep Nigerians safe.
“The Nigerian Army calls on the general public to discountenance the publication going round that the federal government is locking down Nigeria by Friday, March 27, 2020 on the basis of the content of the directive to military formations to take proactive measures to prepare for possible call out to assist civil authority in the case of COVID-19 getting worse in the country”.