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COVID-19: Army set to enforce restriction of movement, mandatory evacuation to hospitals

The Nigerian Army says it is to enforce the policy of restriction of movement and compulsory evacuation of all identified sick or vulnerable Nigerians to hospitals as a way of containing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

The strategy document approved by Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, and signed by the Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans, Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun, also says it if suspending all projected events of the Army that involves large gatherings including meetings, briefings, and conferences for the year 2020.

Announcing the immediate suspension of all leave and passes already issued by the Army, the memo directs all its personnel “to be on maximum security alert and be ready for deployment as may be required.”

The memo, which was also copied to the Army’s Divisions, Brigades and other units, hinted that with the escalating number of cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Army would be likely be called upon to activate ‘OP-SEVEN-ELEVEN’ as a way of aiding civil authority in combating the spread of the virus.

As part of the contingency measures in case the virus gets out of hand, the Army also plans to lease out excavators, trucks, water tankers and other relevant vehicles to aid the operation in the area of possible mass burial, water, and essential food/drugs supplies.

The memo reads: “Following the rise and continuous spread in cases of the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) in Nigeria, the COAS has deemed it necessary for all to take proactive measures to ensure the safety of NA personnel and their families. Recall that Reference A circulated under the cover of Reference B highlighted the CO AS’ Strategic Directive for the Year 2020 (Sb-2020) as do sustain the professionalism and responsiveness of the NA in the discharge of its constitutional roles”.

“The Sb-2020 which is in line with the COAS’ vision of “having a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles” had predicted the possibility of the NA actively getting engaged in Op SECOND ELEVEN in the course of the Year. With the continuous spread of the Coronavirus, Government calling out the NA for Op SECOND ELEVEN can therefore not be ruled out. In view of the foregoing, I am directed to convey that the following measures be instituted by commanders at all levels.

“Suspension of implementation of the NA Forecast of Events 2020 involving large gatherings such as meetings, briefings, and conferences. Suspension of all foreign courses, conferences, seminars and other overseas trips by personnel. Suspension of all physical debriefings of returnees from foreign courses and official assignments. Such are to be done online. Closing of all NA schools and training centers. Closing hours for all NA formations and units to be 1600 hrs except lof 6. Suspension of assembly date for participants of Army War College Course 4/20.

“Planning on the lease of excavators, trucks, water tankers and other relevant vehicles to aid Op SECOND ELEVEN in the area of possible mass burial, water, and essential food/drugs supplies, forceful transfer of the sick to hospitals, enforcement of government movement restriction order, etc. Planning to secure all major food stores and government storage facilities for essential goods from looting.

“Coordination with sister Services, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Fire Services and others on enforcing a restriction on movements and other directives by the Government. Acquisition of protective gear for medical and other personnel that would be involved in the management of the sick, evacuation and burial of the dead, etc.”

“Drastic reduction in movements of personnel within all headquarters to the barest minimum. Drastic reduction in the number of visitors and the frequency of visits to all NA establishments. Creation of WhatsApp groups by departments, cells, and a group of related workers to pass information and instructions. Carrying of files from one office to the other should be replaced with the maximum use of NASIP and NAWANI. Initiating and subjecting all personnel to temperature checks at entrance gates.

“Making available hand sanitizers at strategic locations within the headquarters for easy access and use by personnel. Personnel are to avoid placing their hands on staircase rails. Personnel are to ensure they wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. Personal hygiene at home must be taken seriously. Anyone who notices any symptoms associated with the COVID 19 is to immediately report to the nearest military medical post for the check. Additionally, I am to convey the immediate suspension of all leave and passes. All NA personnel are to be on maximum security alert and be ready for deployment as may be required.”

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