The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, has tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Thisday newspaper reports, citing presidential sources.
There is no official confirmation yet, but officials including a presidential aide did not deny the report.
PREMIUM TIMES has since learnt that Mr Kyari’s close associates including the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babagana Kingibe, will be tested following Mr Kyari’s situation.
THISDAY on Tuesday morning reported the results of alleged tests conducted for both Mr Buhari and Mr Kyari by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with the former allegedly testing negative while the latter tested positive.
Mr Kyari was for many years on the editorial board of THISDAY newspaper.
Sources at the state house also confided in PREMIUM TIMES that though Mr Kyari has tested positive, he is not troubled.
“Yes, he tested positive. He is at home but in high spirit,” a source at the presidency said.
The source added that leading the close associates of Mr Kyari to get tested on Tuesday is Mr Kingibe, who is described by many as the political mentor of the chief of staff.
“Many are currently on self-isolation but those billed to be tested by NCDC this morning will be led by the former SGF who is closer to him among all,” the source added.
Officials at the presidential villa confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Kyari was not in the office on Monday and was yet to come to work on Tuesday, as at the time of this report.
Efforts to get official confirmation on Mr Kyari’s situation were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday.
Femi Adesina, Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, did not deny the report but declined comment on the matter. He referred all enquiries to the health minister, Osagie Ehanire.
Mr Ehanire’s spokesperson, Enefaa Bob-Manuel, said she has not been briefed by the minister.
“I have no information on that yet. My Miniter has not given any information on that,” she said in response to our enquiry.
Also, the NCDC, which has been leading the government’s action on the disease, said it could not confirm Mr Kyari’s case as it has a policy of not naming COVID-19 victims.
“Please, NCDC has not provided personal information on any case, and will not provide information on a case by case basis,” an NCDC spokesperson wrote in a text message in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, quoting the agency’s head, Chikwe Ihekweazu.
The NCDC late last night, however, confirmed a new case of coronavirus in Abuja, bringing the total number of detected cases in the Nigerian capital to seven.
Nigeria, as of the time of this report, has confirmed 40 cases of the disease, majority (28) in Lagos.
Masari, IGP may be tested too
Mr Kyari travelled to Germany on March 7 and returned about a week later.
He is suspected to have contracted the disease in Germany, which has thousands of cases of the disease and has banned public gatherings, limiting such to a maximum of two people.
Prominent Nigerians who have had engagements with the chief of staff since his return to Nigeria include Governors Bello Masari and Yahaya Bello of Katsina and Kogi states respectively; and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, among others.
The chief of staff, who was in Europe alongside the power minister, Saleh Mamman, returned to the country on March 14.
The duo had travelled to Germany to meet with officials of Siemens AG in pursuit of the deal recently signed between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the energy company towards improving electricity supply in the country.
Mr Kyari had not been in isolation since his return but rather had been partaking in other official functions until he was tested.
On his arrival to the country, Mr Kyari attended the wedding ceremony of Hassan Adamu, son of the inspector general of police, Mohammed Adamu, which held in Abuja on March 14, the same day he arrived in the country.
On March 17, Mr Kyari also led a presidential delegation to commiserate with Mr Bello on the demise of his mother.
Meanwhile, the spokespersons to Governor Masari, Abdu Labaran respectively, did not answer calls made to their telephone lines, while messages sent were also not replied.
EDITOR’S NOTE: There was initial suggestion in this story that Mr Kyari also met a leading businessman recently but a spokesperson to the billionaire later reached out to this paper to say his boss did not meet the chief of staff recently. The article has been updated to reflect that as well as the response of the health minister’s spokesperson.