© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Where exactly is Chief Of Staff Abba Kyari?
THE whereabouts of Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s powerful Chief of Staff, remains unknown, days after he announced that he had tested positive to the Coronavirus.
Very few people appear to have been able to speak to Mr.Kyari since he officially announced his Coronavirus positive status on Wednesday.
Even among his coterie of close friends, associates and family members, there is no certainty about exactly where Kyari is, though many believe that he is somewhere in Lagos.
A close family friend of the powerful Buhari aide said that although Kyari himself announced to the world that he was traveling to Lagos to receive adequate medical attention, “the truth of the matter is that anybody who tells you that he or she knows where he is just speculating, except if they are in the same room wherever he is”.
It was learnt that Kyari has shut down all his regular Nigerian phone lines and has communicated with only a very few people, including his wife and children, with “his UK number”.
The news of Kyari’s Coronavirus positive status was broken on March 24 when the result of a test carried out earlier was delivered to him at the Presidential Villa.
However, the presidency was silent on the matter until Kyari confirmed it in a statement on March 29, in which he announced that he would be going to Lagos “for additional tests and observation”.
“I have made my own care arrangements to avoid further burdening the public health system, which faces so many pressures,” he said further, adding that he was feeling well.
“Like many others that will test also positive, I have not experienced high fever or other symptoms associated with this new virus and have been working from home. I hope to be back at my desk very soon, Kyari stated.
Close family sources confirmed that Kyari was transported to the airport between 11.00 pm and midnight on the same day he released the statement, March 29.
However, no family member or friend could say for certainty that Kyari actually flew to Lagos from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
According to sources, no member of his family accompanied him on the trip.
In fact, one close family friend said that Kyari’s wife expressed concern that he was leaving for Lagos alone and offered that either she or one of their children accompany the sick politician, a suggestion which, according to reports, was quickly rebuffed by him.
However, a friend of the CoS told our reporter that he spoke to him during the week he traveled to Lagos, and that Kyari told him that he was doing fine.
The friend, who said he has not spoken to him since then, told The ICIR that he noticed that he coughed persistently. But, besides that, he said Kyari said he was feeling fine.
An associate of the powerful presidential aide, who has spoken with him frequently in recent days, said that his doctors had to take his phones away from him because he was receiving too many calls.
However, the aide said “he is allowed to use his UK line sparingly on a few occasions to call his family or pass instructions to key aides”.
Asked if he knew for certainty that Kyari is in Lagos, the associate said that he believed the CoS when he told him that he was in Lagos, adding that “ I believe even the President believes that the Chief of Staff is in Lagos”.
A family friend to the Kyaris, however, observed that only Kyari or an aide who traveled with him can say exactly where he is.
The family friend, who said he has tried but failed to speak with Kyari since Sunday when he is believed to have left for Lagos said that he knows that he had been under a lot of pressure and wanted to take a break from work, family and all the pressure associated with being a close aide and confidant of President Buhari.
“First, you know the CoS lives in a two bedroom chalet in Defense House, where he is always closeted with his family.
After he tested positive, he probably just wanted some space away from family friends and others who had been calling him after he tested positive.”
“Second, that going to Lagos might just be a decoy for him to get away from home and go stay alone somewhere in Abuja. So, even though he said he was going to Lagos, it might all just have been a decoy for him to go elsewhere, even in Abuja. I do not know but that is what I think.”
Kyari is believed to have been infected while on a trip to Germany where he went to meet with officials of Siemens, the multinational conglomerate headquartered in Munich. He left on March 7 and returned on March 15.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, and Worldometer estimate that Germany currently has over 85,000 cases of the Corona Virus, more than 1,100 deaths and 24,575 recoveries..
A day after he got back to the country, the CoS is said to have attended a meeting where he and those in attendance discussed containing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
It was at the meeting, Kyari was said to have started showing symptoms of COVID-19 when he coughed intermittently.