President Muhammadu Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast, said the lockdown, which would begin at 11pm on Monday, would be for an initial period of 14 days. He said during the lockdown residents of the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states should stay at home.

The President said this just as COVID-19 cases in the country increased to 111 on Sunday and more prominent Nigerians tested positive for the disease, they include the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai.

Among those who tested positive were the Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo; the Provost of the College of Medicine, Ibadan, Ezekiel Olapade-Olaopa and the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede.

Also tested positive was the Deputy Provost of the College of Medicine, Ibadan, Obafunke Denloye.

As of Sunday night, no fewer than 111 people have been infected with the virus with 68 in Lagos State; 21 in FCT; 7 Oyo State; 3 in Ogun State; Enugu, Edo, Bauchi, and Osun states have 2 cases each, while Ekiti, Rivers, Benue and Kaduna states have 1 case each.

He said: “All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.

“The governors of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.

“We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other states.”

During the period, he said all flights remained suspended, while any form of inter-state vehicular or seaport movements for the purpose of conveying foodstuffs and medical supplies would be done in strict compliance to safety regulations.

However, Buhari mentioned services that would not be affected by the lockdown, saying that among them were “hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organisations in healthcare-related manufacturing and distribution.”

He added that food processing, distribution and retail companies; petroleum distribution and retail entities; power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies were also exempted.

The President gave further implications of the new development, “Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.

“All seaports in Lagos shall remain operational in accordance with the guidelines I issued earlier. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.

“Furthermore, all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items into these locations from other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter these restricted areas.

“Accordingly, the minister of health is hereby directed to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to these restricted zones.

“Movements of all passenger aircraft, both commercial and private jets, are hereby suspended. Special permits will be issued on a need basis.”

The President, who admitted that the measures would cause pain to the citizenry, noted that they were necessary to stop Nigeria from going the way of Italy, Spain and France that recorded heavy COVID -19 casualties.

He promised to announce relief measures for the satellite town residents of Lagos and Abuja, who would be most affected by the measures, in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, Buhari disclosed that a strategy was being worked out in conjunction with the state governments to sustain the school feeding programme, in spite of the fact that schools were already closed.

He spoke on other palliatives, saying, “Furthermore, I have directed that a three month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans be implemented with immediate effect.

“I have also directed that a similar moratorium be given to all Federal Government funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.

“For on-lending facilities using capital from international and multi-lateral development partners, I have directed our development financial institutions to engage these development partners and negotiate concessions to ease the pains of the borrowers.

“For the most vulnerable in our society, I have directed that the conditional cash transfers for the next two months be paid immediately. Our internally displaced persons will also receive two months of food rations in the coming weeks.”

While the measures took full effect, the President urged Nigerians to sustain all safety regulations already put in place by the NDDC, especially social distancing, banning of large gatherings, use of sanitisers and wearing of face masks.

Buhari had come under pressure from Nigerians to address the nation, like other world leaders did in their countries, as the COVID -19 casualty figures steadily climbed to 111.