Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Commissioner for Information in Abia, John Okiyi Kalu, disclosed this in a statement on Monday, June 8, 2020.

Ikpeazu had gone into isolation following the death of his Commissioner for Environment, Solomon Ogunji, on May 24.

Ogunji was suspected to have died of hypertension. However, tests for COVID-19 on his remains returned positive.

The governor had advised Abia Exco members who had contact with Ogunji before his death, to also observe self-isolation until they had been tested for the virus.

Deputy Governor to oversee Abia affairs

The state’s deputy governor, Ude Chukwu, will stand-in for Ikpeazu until he’s declared fit to return to work.

“Recall that on Saturday, 30th May, 2020, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu volunteered his sample for COVID-19 test and subsequently directed members of the state Executive Council (EXCO) and those of the inter ministerial committee on COVID-19 to submit themselves for the same test.

“On Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020, the result of Governor Ikpeazu’s test returned negative,” Kalu announced.

“On Thursday, 4th June, 2020, the Governor submitted another sample at NCDC laboratory for confirmation and the result returned positive.

“As a result, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has gone into isolation, as required by relevant NCDC protocols, and he is being managed by a competent team of medical practitioners with a view to nursing him back to good health.

”Consequent on the above, the governor has directed his Deputy, Rt Hon Ude Oko Chukwu, to act on his behalf pending his full resumption of duties.

“We wish to urge all Abians to take the fight against COVID-19 serious as the disease is real but not a death sentence. Our state has the resources to manage patients back to good health.”

‘A promise from God’

In March, Ikpeazu had said COVID-19 will not come anywhere near his state because Abia is the only state mentioned in the Bible.

“Abia is the only state that is mentioned in the Bible. We have a promise from God that none of these diseases…none will touch God’s people. And I hold onto God’s promise. We saw Ebola, it did not get to us. We saw monkey pox, it didn’t get to us.

“Even this one (COVID-19), will also pass us by in Jesus name. Amen.”

Abia has reported 83 COVID-19 cases and 7 recoveries as of June 7, 2020.

Ikpeazu is the fourth state governor to test positive for coronavirus in Nigeria. Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed, Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Oyo Governor Seyi Makinde have all tested positive for and recovered from coronavirus.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, is the most high profile casualty of the pandemic in Nigeria.

Kyari died on April 17, 2020, from coronavirus complications.