Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army has frowned against the unnecessary politicization of the death of one of its senior officers and General Officer Commanding(GOC), 6 Division, Port Harcourt Major General Olubunmi Irefin, to COVID-19, in Abuja while attending the 2020 Chief Of Army Staff Conference.
The Army while lamenting the death of the senior officer as a great loss to the service, his family the nation, described the rumors making the rounds by unknown group over the sudden death of the GOC as unfounded and urged them to desist from spreading fake news.
Acting Director Army Public Relations Brigadier General Sagir Musa, who gave the warning in Abuja, gave an insight into how the senior officer died.
Sagir in a statement issued Sunday night, said: “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.
“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 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. 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 out come 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. 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.
“Above are the the sequence of events that led to the demise of our late Major General JO Irefin the former GOC 6 Division Port Harcourt. 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.