COVID-19 hits Army GOC dies


There was panic at the venue of the botched Annual Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abuja following the reported sudden death of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major General Johnson Olubunmi Irefin, from COVID-19.

The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sagir Musa had in a statement announced the suspension of the conference over the sudden illness of the General.

The statement read: “Due to resurgence of COVID-19 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja in what appears to be a second wave of infection cycle and the unfortunate incident on December 8, where an officer participating in the ongoing Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020 in Abuja, tested positive for COVID 19, the remaining activities of the conference have therefore been immediately cancelled.

“All the participants have been mandated to immediately proceed on self-isolation in line with the Federal Government’s protocol for COVID-19 and to prevent any further spread of the disease,” General Musa added.

It was, however, gathered that Major General Irefin who hailed from Kogi State died Thursday morning in Abuja following sudden illness The Annual Chief of Army Staff Conference which was taking place in Abuja had President Muhammadu Buhari addressing participants virtually when it kicked off a few days ago. Recall that the deceased lost his mother and buried her in Ayetoro Gbede, Kogi State a few weeks back.

Present at the botched Annual Conference were the chief host, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Air Staff, Minister of Defence, Magashi, Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin and virtually everyone who is someone in the Nigerian Army.

As at the time of filing this report, the conference had been suspended while all those who attended had been ordered to proceed on isolation immediately.

Also, Nigerian Army had yet to issue an official statement over the incident while the Acting Director of the Army Public Relations was not immediately available for comments.

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However, a top military officer who confirmed the death of the GOC anonymously lamented that there was fear that several other top ranking army officers might have contracted the virus which killed the GOC and declined further comments.

In the same development, all who were billed to attend the wedding of Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai’s son, Hamisu Buratai, today have been restricted from attending.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sagir Musa on Thursday.

According to the statement titled, ‘Scaling down of Activities for the Wedding Fatiha of Lt Gen Ty Buratai’s Son, Mr Hamisu Tukur Buratai’, the Army said the decision followed a second wave of COVID-19 in the FCT.

“The Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai wishes to inform all dignitaries and other invited guests that activities earlier scheduled for the wedding of his son Mr Hamisu Tukur Buratai will proceed as arranged albeit pruned down without the participation of all those who were at the conference,” it explained.

The statement further said that “the Chief of Army Staff, on behalf of his family, feels honoured to sincerely appreciate, thank and welcome all dignitaries and invited guests to his son’s Wedding Fatiha slated for tomorrow. “However, due to the resurgence of the virus in the FCT, General Buratai will be unable to personally attend to, receive or meet you at the event. All inconveniences hereby regretted please,” it added.

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