Nigerian presidency denies close Buhari aide tested positive for COVID-19

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria March 29, 2020. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS- THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The Nigerian presidency denied a report from a media outlet that one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s closest aides and Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, Sarki Abba, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The presidency, in a strongly-worded statement released on Wednesday, dismissed the report on Abba’s health as “utter falsehood” and “disgraceful lies”.

“This report is sheer fabrication and brazen effort by the online news medium to mislead the public,” the statement read in part.

The presidency reassured Nigerians that all staff members who operate around the president are “routinely and rigorously” checked for the virus while noting that Abba “always tested negative.”

The presidency further urged the public to ignore such stories which it said were intended to mislead it and create unnecessary anxiety about the president’s safety.

“Don’t let yourself to be manipulated by any medium that thrives on yellow journalism and specializes in peddling fake news in the desperate quest for the market and donor money.”

Just two cases of the deadly virus have been reported among the president’s staff members and cabinet. One was that of former Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, who died from complications due to COVID-19 in April.

The other one involved Minister for Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, who became the first Cabinet member to test positive for the coronavirus. Onyeama has since recovered from the disease and resumed his duties.