Coronavirus scare hits National Assembly

National Assembly Complex, Abuja

By Saminu Ibrahim

The global outbreak of Coronavirus is taking a serious effect on the Nigerian parliament, as lawmakers are apprehensive and may begin to desert plenary sessions, SINL Nigeria Online reports.

Indeed, the fear is compounded by the arrival of 14 Senators and a member of the Nigeria House of Representatives from overseas trip recently.

It was gathered that Senator Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom North East), Godiya Akwashiki (Nasarawa North), Mathew Orhoghide (Edo South) and Honourable Benjamin Kalu (Bende federal constituency) are among lawmakers who arrived the shores of this country recently, but allegedly joined their colleagues at plenary without self isolation.

A source who spoke to SINL Nigeria Online on anonymity said “We are apprehensive, because ordinarily, they were supposed to isolate themselves for at least 14 days before they join us”.

But rising from an executive session of the senate on Thursday, spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Godiya Akwashiki said “The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan urged all those that traveled outside the country and arrived recently to go and test themselves”.

“Some senators wanted us to shut down, but we cannot wake up today and close the National Assembly.

“So we decided that from next week there will be no Public Hearings, but if it get out of hand, we will not hesitate to shut down the National Assembly” Akwashiki said.

Perhaps, as a precautionary measure, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan announced at the plenary on Thursday 19th March, 2020 after an executive session of the Senate that henceforth, all Public Hearings and excursion by schools and colleges should be suspended, adding that the gallery should be temporarily closed with immediate effect.

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SINL Nigeria Online gathered that following the arrival of lawmakers from United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada and Ghana fear has enveloped the parliament.

Consequent upon the Coronavirus scare, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa west) actually appeared at the Senate on Thursday, 19th March, 2020 with face mask apparently to protect himself against the pandemic.

Similarly, Senator Sani Musa (Niger East) also appeared at the parliament on Thursday, 19th March, 2020 with a face mask.

The National Assembly was devoid of the usual heavy vehicular and human traffic at the last sitting.

 Further investigation revealed that lawmakers decried lack of serious measures by the management of the complex to protect them while they execute legislative work.

Though there were sanitizers at some of the entry points when our Correspondent visited the complex, it was however glaring that temperature testing kit were not provided to test temperature of visitors and lawmakers at the entry points of the two Chambers.


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