The Nigerian president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, died on Friday after contracting the new coronavirus, three presidency spokesmen said on Twitter.
Kyari, who was in his 70s and had underlying health problems including diabetes, was the top official aide to 77-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari and one of the most powerful men in the country.
“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020,” said presidency spokesman Garba Shehu in a tweet.
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, confirmed the news in a tweet.
The Personal Assistant on New Media to the president, Bashir Ahmad, also confirmed the passing of the former Chief of Staff.
Kyari’s was the highest profile death due to the disease in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Kyari acted as the gatekeeper to Buhari. He travelled to Germany in early March with a delegation of other Nigerian officials for meetings with Siemens AG. He attended meetings with senior government officials upon his return to Nigeria.