Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Confusion and uncertainty enveloped Katsina State yesterday following the sealing off of the Emir of Daura’s Palace, Alhaji Umar Farouq Umar, by armed police officers.
The mobile police officers, who were acting on the directive of the state government, were said to have arrived the emir’s palace on Sunday night in a commando style and ordered people to vacate the palace.
This was confirmed by the Katsina State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Supritendent Gambo Isah, who said that police acted on the directive of the Katsina State Governor, Mr. Aminu Bello Masari.
It was alleged that the decision to seal off the ancient palace followed the inability of the monarch to adhere to social distancing law while distributing food items to the needy to cushion their hardship while fasting.
It was further alleged by sources that the state government was constrained to shutdown the palace after three persons have died of COVID-19 pandemic in the palace while unspecified number of people in the palace have been quarantine at different isolation centres in the state.
A prominent son of Daura, who craved anonymity, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that contrary to the protocols imposed by state government to contain the spread of COVID-19, the traditional ruler assembled more than 1,000 people in his palace and distributed food to them without regard to the regulation requiring the observance of social distancing.
However, Masari, who also confirmed the development to journalists at the Government House, said the decision was not a coup but purely an administrative exercise aimed at identifying those who might have positive cases of COVID-19 within the emirate council.
The governor, who was visibly disturbed by the alarming rate of COVID-19 cases in the state, said the sealing off of the paramount ruler’s palace was not a witch-hunt, but to curtail the spread of the pandemic in the area.
He said: “We have over 80 cases that we have taken from Daura. You must have heard and I am sure there was a release that we have to take certain measures which were purely administrative in order to contain the spread of the disease especially in Daura that has to do with the emir’s palace.
“It was not a coup or anything unusual but we have done it to take measures that would stop the spread and identify all those who are positive within the emirate council and take them to isolation centres.
“A palace, like government house, is a place housing thousands. So, we decided to take control of the palace so that we can take samples of everyone that lives in the palace.”