Nigeria grieves as Buhari’s chief of staff dies of COVID-19

Kent Mensah April 18, 2020
A handout image made available by the Nigerian State House shows the Nigerian president sitting beside his Chief of Staff Abba Kyari [File: Sunday Aghaeze/AFP]

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has lost his chief of staff, Abba Kyari, to COVID-19, the presidency confirmed. Kyari died on Friday with underlying health problems, including diabetes, according to health officials.

“The Presidency regrets to announce the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari,” official spokesperson to the president, Garba Shehu, broke the news in a tweet on Friday. “The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020.”

Kyari, who was in his 70s, becomes the highest political personality to have succumbed to the global pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation. The West African country has recorded 493 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Kyari was buried on Saturday. He tested positive for COVID-19 last month after a visit to Germany. In his last statement to the public on March 29, he said he hoped “to be back at my desk very soon”, but he lost the fight on Friday.

In a related development, on Wednesday, Nigeria lost a medical personnel, Dr. Chugbo Emeka, to coronavirus related complications after treating a patient infected with the deadly contagion.

Dr. Emeka was admitted to the Lagos University teaching hospital on Monday with “severe” signs of the coronavirus, succumbing to it on Wednesday.

The Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Professor Chris Bode, told the Vanguard the death of the 60-year-old doctor “has shown what health workers are exposed to in the course of treating COVID-19 patients. Our hearts are with his family in this trying time. It is a sad development for us.”

Security forces have been facing challenges in enforcing a lockdown in parts of Nigeria to stop the spread of the disease. According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), security personnel have killed at least 18 people in Nigeria since lockdowns began on 30 March.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: April 18, 2020


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