From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The federal government has warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) not to compel workers on Grade Level (GL) 12 and below to return to wor, insisting such workers must continue to work from home.

The Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave the warning at Monday’s media briefing by the task force, charging Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers to ensure strict compliance.

‘At the last briefing, we informed you that the President has authorized the extension of all measures in place, including the limitation of the categories of workers allowed to come to the office to those above GL 12. The PTF has received reports that MDA are compelling their workers in the categories barred from the office, to report for work. For the avoidance of doubts, all employees from GL 12 and below shall continue to work from home and no Agency is allowed to vary this instruction. Permanent Secretaries and CEOs are to ensure strict compliance,’ Mustapha stated.

Mustapha also reminded Nigerians that enforcement of the new regulation – the CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) HEALTH PROTECTION REGULATIONS 2021 – signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, in the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010 and all other powers enabling him in that behalf, will be taken seriously and urge full compliance.

‘In the final analysis, let us remember that it is for the good of the individual and his/her loved ones. I also urge the media to please go the extra mile to educate Nigerians and the report levels of compliance,’ he said.

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The PTF Chairman reiterated that sanctions and punishments (including jail terms and fines) would be meted out to violators of the protocols.

‘The PTF also wishes to draw the attention of all Nigerians to the fact that sanctions and punishments (including jail terms and fines) have been prescribed for violators of the provisions under the Regulations. All Law enforcement Agencies have been fully briefed and instructed to enforce the law within the appropriate limits,’ Mustapha stated.

He noted that as of January 30, the WHO declared that the new coronavirus outbreak constituted a public health emergency of international concern, thus triggering the highest level of concern possible.

He said that in just one year, the world has seen over 100 million infections and over two million deaths, with Nigeria currently recording 130,557 infections with 1,578 fatalities.

Mustpha reassured Nigerians that the processes for accessing and procuring vaccines for Nigerians has advanced and ‘we continue to ensure that it will be safe and effective for Nigerians when eventually we procure it.

‘As you are aware, the whole world is pursuing the same commodity and we have to secure our source while at the same time preparing our infrastructure and capacity for administration. The Executive Director (NPHCDA) will update you accordingly.’