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How We Battled To Save Late Major General Irefin From COVID-19 – Army

December 14, 2020

Irefin was attending the annual Chief of Army Staff conference in Abuja before he took ill and died.

The Nigerian Army has narrated how Major General John Olu Irefin died from COVID-19 complications despite spirited efforts by the Army to save his life.

Irefin was attending the annual Chief of Army Staff conference in Abuja before he took ill and died.


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The Army authorities had immediately cancelled the conference, directing all the participants to go into isolation.

His kin has, however, rejected the claim that the army general died of COVID-19.

The Aiyetoro-Gbede community in Kogi State, where Irefin hailed from, said they suspected that he was murdered.

A.A Aminu, a spokesman of the Ayetoro Development Association, in a statement, called on the authorities to investigate the General's death.

The kin argued that COVID-19 could not have killed Irefin within such a short period.

Reacting to the claim, the Nigerian Army in a statement signed by its spokesman, Sagir Musa, narrated in sequence the events that led to the demise of the late Major General.

The statement reads: "The sudden death of Maj General JO Irefin is no doubt a significant loss to the Nigerian Army (NA), his family and the country at large. Given the fake news, unnecessary and wicked insinuations that started emanating from unknown groups or individuals, the NA wishes to inform members of the public of the sequence of events that led to the death of the late senior officer.

"Recall that the Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference 2020, started on December 7, 2020, following the virtual declaration by the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for its commencement. The participants who were mostly Principal Staff Officers, General Officers Commanding (GOCs), Corps Commanders, Commandants of NA schools, Directors and other invited dignitaries assembled in Giri venue of the first phase of the conference during which Mr President virtually commissioned the NA Cyber Warfare Command Headquarters among other vital projects.

"Among the attendees was Maj Gen JO Irefin the erstwhile GOC 6 Division NA. While at Giri, the General started complaining of discomfort. Despite the pain, he was at phase 2 in life camp for the commissioning of Housing Scheme for families of officers and soldiers killed in action from where he left the venue for his accommodation. He was later taken to Defence Medical Centre the same day at about 2125 hours having complained of fever, headache and mild cough. Medical history revealed that he was treated for malaria with parenteral artemether a week ago at 6 Division Medical Services and Hospital Port Harcourt where he was the GOC.

"He had a fever, but oxygen saturation was normal at 99%. Other vital signs were essentially stable on presentation. A working diagnosis of drug-resistant malaria to rule out lobar pneumonia and COVID 19 infection was made. He was also placed on cefriaxone, and COVID 19 test was requested.

"Consequently, on the morning of December 8 2020, the fever and cough subsided, and he was eating well. On the same day (December 8 2020), he was discharged after his sample for COVID 19 test had been taken and was requested to self-isolate pending the outcome of the test. On December 9 2020, the result of the COVID 19 test conducted on him was positive. As a result, he was taken to 063 Nigerian Airforce Hospital Abuja, where his SpO saturation was noted to be well reduced to between 55 - 60%. He was then immediately taken to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja by the Commander 063 NAF Hospital for further management. At the hospital, he was immediately admitted and placed on high flow oxygen.

"An initial improvement of 80 - 82% oxygen saturation was noticed. He was then commenced on antiviral agent remdesivir based on the COVID 19 test result. Other treatment included the usual COVID 19 treatment cocktail. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, at about 0510 hours on Thursday, December 10 2020, the Commander 063 NAF Hospital Abuja was informed that the senior officer desaturated again and eventually died. The cause of his death was reported as respiratory failure secondary to the complications of COVID 19 infection.

"This explanation is essential to ward off mischievous and wicked insinuations from certain quarters alluding unwholesome acts as responsible for the death of the respected senior officer."