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The Deputy Governor of Borno State, Umar Kadafur, has said the refusal of residents to adhere to outlined safety measures against COVID-19 reminds him of the attitude that gave oxygen to Boko Haram over a decade ago.

Mr Kadafur, who is the chairman of the state’s committee on COVID-19, expressed his displeasure over the unwillingness of the residents of Maiduguri, the state capital, to adhere to safety regulations, including social distancing.

Addressing journalists Sunday at the resumed briefing on COVID-19, he said the committee, however, would not give up on the people because “COVID-19 is real.”

“As you could see on Saturday evening a lot of people defied orders and went out for burial, they felt that this thing (COVID-19) is not true,” he said.

The deputy governor was making reference to the crowded funeral of a popular Borno Islamic cleric, Modu-Goni Kolo, who died on Saturday. A video clip of his funeral revealed hundreds of mourners struggling to touch his corpse in utter disregard for social distancing protocol.

Mr Kadafur also frowned at how some mosques continue to violate social distancing order by calling for prayers five times a day.

“Some persons would not put off their mosque microphones, rather they put them and call for congregational prayers. This is how Boko Haram started.”

He said when Boko Haram started, many people in the state did not see the group as a danger against them until it was too late.

“This COVID-19 is for us another Boko Haram because it posses greater danger to our lives. When Boko Haram started people didn’t take them seriously.

“If you want to play with COVID-19, you can choose to, but I will not stop telling you the truth that this is real and as a leader in the state, I won’t get tired of telling them that for their own good and that of others, they should obey social distancing order, embrace hygiene culture and they should put on face masks each time they go out in public places”

He reminded the residents that “COVID-19 has no cure.”

“People should know that taking confirmed persons to isolation centre is to prevent the spread and not treatment,” he said.

He said all the 11 confirmed COVID-19 deaths died as a result of underlying medical conditions “like asthma, diabetics, high blood pressure.”

Mr Kadafur said already, the two isolation centers in Maiduguri are filled to capacity and his committee was in the process of setting up yet another isolation centre to accommodate the daily recorded cases of COVID-19.

Since the confirmation of the index case on April 19, 11 persons have died of the disease, including the index case. Borno now has a total of 75 confirmed cases, out if which none has been discharged.

The commissioner for health, Salisu KwayaBura, said “all the patients are stable and none of them are in critical condition as we speak.”

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