A handout image made available by the Nigerian State House shows the Nigerian president sitting beside his Chief of Staff Abba Kyari [File: Sunday Aghaeze/AFP]

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the presidency said on Saturday.

Buhari’s office announced in a statement that it “regrets to announce the passage” of Abba Kyari, who acted as gatekeeper to the president of Africa’s most populous nation.

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“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging COVID-19, and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020,” the statement said. 

“May God accept his soul.”

Kyari, in his 70s, was the highest-profile COVID-19 death in the West African country, which has 493 confirmed cases and 17

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