The body of Malam Abba Kyari, late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, was buried around noon today, Saturday, April 18, 2020, at Gudu Cemetery in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
Safety measures were observed as the body was moved from the ambulance by staff of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Hand gloves and sanitisers were being shared, as all cleaned their hands and wore gloves.
However, social distancing as preached and enforced by Government to check the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) was not observed. What is more, the burial took place in the thick of the lockdown of Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states initially proclaimed on March 28 by President Buhari and extended for another two weeks on April 13.
Abba Kyari’s death was announced in the early hours of today by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, who said in a statement issued around 1am in Abuja: “The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020. May God accept his soul. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.”
Mallam Abba Kyari was tested for the COVID-19 virus by NCDC on Monday, March 23. NCDC briefed the President on the outcome of the test on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, and it happened to be positive.
This came two weeks after Abba Kyari travelled to Germany to meet with officials of Siemens in Munich on Nigeria’s electricity expansion programme. He was said to have returned on March 14, although he did not show any symptoms of being infected with the virus.
The late Chief of Staff, aged 81, reportedly submitted himself voluntarily for testing and promptly went into isolation after testing positive. Three of his staff have also tested positive to Coronavirus.
Six days after testing positive for coronavirus, Abba Kyari spoke for the first time on his status. He disclosed this in a personal statement signed by him and made available to journalists that he was about to be transferred from Abuja to Lagos for further tests.
He wrote: “I am writing to let you know that on medical advice, I will transfer to Lagos later today for additional tests and observation. This is a precautionary measure: I feel well, but last week, I tested positive for coronavirus, the pandemic that is sweeping the world. I have followed all the protocols government has announced to self-isolate and quarantine.
“I have made my own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures. Like many others that will test also positive, I have not experienced high fever or other symptoms associated with this new virus and have been working from home.
“I hope to be back at my desk very soon. I have a team of young, professional, knowledgeable and patriotic colleagues, whose dedication has been beyond the call of duty, who continue to work seven days a week, with no time of the day spared. We will continue to serve the President and people of Nigeria, as we have for the past five years.”
Kyari also thanked health workers as he advised every Nigerian to be calm and diligent. “We should be calm, measured and diligent – be meticulous in your hygiene, especially with cleaning hands, if possible stay at home or keep your distance.
“Listen to good advice from the proper authorities: pay no heed to quack cures or fake news from social media. President Buhari will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of our people and get the country back on its feet as soon as possible.”
News of Abba Kyari’s death broke shortly after NCDC put the number of COVID-19 deaths in the country at 17 and the total number of infected persons at 493, while 177 had been treated and discharged. Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed over 149,000 persons while the number of confirmed case stands at over 2.2 million.