The residents of some estates around Lokogoma area have urged the government to halt its plan of burying COVID-19 victims en mass around their residence.
The residents made this plea during a Monday protest arguing that although the site is designed for a cemetery in the master plan but not an “infectious disease cemetery.”
The protest, which took place at Suncity estate, Lokogoma, before proceeding to the site of the cemetery, had residents complain bitterly about the said plan while observing social distancing
A representative of Suncity estate, Gbenga Ambali, explained their stance.
“Being the representatives of the people, we have to make our stand known to the government in respect of the disease infectious cemetery that is planned to be located very close to us around Galadima roundabout on your way to Games Village.
“We want to make it very clear that this would not be good for us, for two reasons. The number one reason is that most of us in this neighbourhood, our source of water is borehole, so if we have an infectious disease cemetery around us we are not safe.
“Number two reason is on the issue of the COVID-19 that we are all facing right now. Nobody knows the full details of this disease. So bringing it down close to us would be creating additional problems in the future,” he said.
Responding to how the residents got to know of the said plan, Mr Ambali said they were informed by top government officials who also reside in the area.
“In this neighbourhood, we have senators, honourables, we have people that are connected and they raised the alarm. We saw some equipment on site, for us that is an indication that something is actually going on.”
A representative of Golden Spring estate, another estate in the area, Ferguson Bobai, also expressed his concerns.
Mr Ferguson, a retired rear admiral, said the short and long term effect of such a cemetery close to a residential area is not well known.
“Just like infectious hospitals are mostly located outside residential areas, we want to appeal to the government, that same can be done for cemeteries of that nature. We are not only dealing with COVID-19 now but its effect in the future.
“When you have a healthy society, you have a healthy government.”
“Work already going on”
Kayode Akande of Ammsco platinum association said his attention was called to workers on the site of the cemetery by one his neighbours.
“We made contact and we confirmed that work is going on there, we tried to reach out to other estates around and incidentally all of us happened to have the information almost at the same time.
“We have heard of how people who have died of COVID-19 in advanced countries are well handled before they are buried and it is very far from where people are residing. In this neighbourhood, the number of residents in this neighbourhood is clearly over a million,” he said.
“Work will still go on”
One of the workers on the site who asked not to be named said work will still proceed on the site.
He said the contractor took away their heavy equipment because the FCT minister is yet to have a meeting with the residents of the area.
A landowner in the area, Hassan Odediran, said he got to know about the development on Friday.
“It was sometime on Friday I was contacted by one of my security guys who said someone came and they want to speak with me. He now said that our land that we want to use for a garden has been taken over. Someone dropped a number by name, Stanely, a staff of FCDA.
“He said the area should be used for COVID-19 cemetery.
Mr Odediran said he was asked to come along with his documents for allocation and fencing on Tuesday.
Efforts to get an official reaction to the cemetery claim and the residents’ protest were unsuccessful.
Abubakar Sani, the spokesperson of the FCT minister, did not return calls or reply text messages sent to him.
COVID-19 in Nigeria
Nigeria has so far recorded 323 confirmed cases. Out of these, 85 people have recovered and have been discharged since the disease was first detected in Nigeria in February. Ten people have also died from the disease.
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