Nigerian president’s top aide dies of coronavirus: Presidency

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the presidency said on Saturday.

Abba Kyari
Abba Kyari

Buhari’s office announced in a statement that it “regrets to announce the passage” of Abba Kyari, who acted as gatekeeper to the president of Africa’s most populous nation.

“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020,” the statement said.

“May God accept his soul.”

Kyari, in his 70s, was the highest-profile COVID-19 death in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Influential technocrat

The influential technocrat, who was reported to have suffered from underlying health issues, was seen as one of the dominant figures in the tight-knit group of advisers around Buhari.

He reportedly controlled access to the president, a 77-year old former military ruler now in his second term as democratically elected leader, overseeing key meetings and granting audiences.

Kyari tested positive for coronavirus in late March after visiting Germany, forcing a string of top Nigerian officials who had been in contact with him to self-quarantine.

In a statement released on March 29, Kyari said he had been transferred to Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, for private medical treatment and hoped “to be back at my desk very soon”.

There has been no official confirmation on whether Buhari has taken a test, but the president has since made repeated televised speeches imposing restrictions to curb the spread the virus.

The central government has imposed a lockdown on Nigeria’s economic hub Lagos and capital Abuja, while state governors have ordered a number of measures in other regions. Al Jazeera

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