Buratai, others self-isolate as COVID-19 scare hits Nigerian Army

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, General Officers Commanding (GOCs), field commanders and other participants, who attended the Chief of Army Staff Conference have gone into isolation following the death of the GOC 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Maj. Gen. Olubunmi Irefin, who died of complications arising from COVID-19.

Irefin’s death caused panic in military circles, especially amongst those that attended the conference most of whom have undergone tests to ascertain their status.

It was also gathered that Buratai has barred participants at the conference from attending the wedding of his son, Hamisu, scheduled for today.
THISDAY checks showed that the late GOC fell sick last Monday at the beginning of the conference and was taken to a military hospital for treatment.


His health degenerated and he later died.

THISDAY learnt that the army chief and some senior officers who attended the conference have undergone the COVID-19 test while others are in the process following an Army Headquarters’ directive.
A military source, who spoke anonymously to THISDAY, said many of the participants have taken the COVID-19 test while others are in the process.
THISDAY further learnt that most of the commanders were told to conclude the isolation and treatment process in Abuja before returning to base except on medical clearance.

“Most of the participants have gone for the test and are awaiting the result. Others are in the process.
“We have many military hospitals in Abuja designated as treatment and isolation centres,” a senior military source said.
The military high command had at the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic designated 48 treatment and isolation centres in the six geo-political zones of the country.

The COVID-19 scare forced the army leadership to cancel the closing ceremony of the COAS conference.
In the first statement by the army yesterday, it said the cancellation followed the circumstances surrounding the health status of an officer, who tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Nigerian Army wishes to inform members of the public that due to resurgence of COVID 19 pandemic in the Federal Capital Territory in what appears to be a second wave of infection cycle and the unfortunate incident on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, where an officer participating in the ongoing Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020 here 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,” the statement, signed by army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sagir Musa, said.
But THISDAY gathered that most of the senior officers and some participants who attended the conference have undergone COVID-19 test and are presently awaiting their results.

In the second statement titled: ‘Scaling down of activities for the wedding Fatiha of Buratai’s son, Mr. Hamisu Tukur Buratai, the army said participants at the COAS conference would not participate in the wedding.
“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.

“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 Friday, December 11, 2020. However, due to the resurgence of the pandemic in the FCT, Gen. Buratai will be unable to personally attend to, receive or meet you at the event. All inconveniences hereby regretted, please,” the army said.

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