Army: No Foul Play in General Irefin’s Death

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Colonel Sagir Musa
Col. Sagir Musa

*Says he died of COVID-19

*Reveals how late GOC 6 Division died

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The Nigerian Army Sunday said there was no foul play in the death of the late General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Major General Olubunmi Irefin.

The Nigerian Army Headquarters said contrary to rumours and conspiracy theories peddled around, the late general died of complications arising from COVID-19 after spirited efforts to save his life.

A statement signed by Army Spokesman, Brigadier-General Sagir Musa, gave a detailed account of efforts made by army authorities to save him leading to his last minutes and eventual demise.

“The sudden death of Maj General JO Irefin is no doubt a great loss to the Nigerian Army (NA), his family and the country at large. In view of the fake news, unnecessary and wicked insinuations that started emanating from unknown group or individuals, the NA wishes to inform members of the public 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 7 December 2020 following the virtual declaration by 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”, it said.

The statement explained that among the attendees was Maj Gen JO Irefin, the GOC 6 Division NA. “While at Giri, the General started complaining of discomfort. Despite the discomfort, 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 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 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, in the morning of 8 December 2020, the fever and cough have subsided and he was eating well”, it said.

The army statement further said that “on the same day (8 December 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 9 December 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”.

It noted that “an initial improvement of 80 – 82% oxygen saturation was noticed. He was then commenced on Anti viral 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 10th of December 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”.

Brigadier-General Musa said following the aforesaid sequence of events that led to the demise of our late Major General JO Irefin the former GOC 6 Division Port Harcourt, it became necessary to debunk the insinuations about his demise.

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

“The NA wishes to once again console and extend its condolences to the family he left behind. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace Ameen”, it said.