Azazi: End of a dream, By Aliyu U. Tilde

Aliyu Tilde
Aliyu Tilde

The remains of former security adviser, General Andrew Azazi, were committed to mother earth yesterday at Yenegoa, Bayelsa State. That was the last station of one of the chief players in the game of Nigeria’s national insecurity during the past decade.

I knew little about the late General before the publication of a Nigerian Army Intelligence Corp (NAIC) report that indicted him in the colossal theft of weapons from the military warehouses in Kaduna and Jaji when he was the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division of the Nigerian Army. The report was titled “Investigation Report into the Theft and Sale of Arms to Niger Delta Gunrunner by an Officer and Some Soldiers of the 1 Base Ordinance Depot Kaduna. It was submitted to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

The report was published first by Saharareporters in 2010 and on it I wrote one of my longest commentaries in 2010 (http://fridaydiscourse.blogspot.com/2010/11/discourse-340-nigeria-cannot-trust.html). It was really interesting reading that article and the comments that followed it. Two years after it was leaked, Nigerian authorities have to date not denied anything about the report. Azazi was promptly sacked as the Chief of Army Staff and compulsorily retired from the army by late President Yar’adua based on his role in the theft of the weapons.

Let me recapture a paragraph that summarized the report from that article:

“Briefly, the NAIC report contains details of how close to 7000 assorted weapons were stolen between 2000 and 2007 from the ordinance depots in Kaduna and Jaji. The theft was masterminded by one Maj. SA Akubo, who sold them to Niger Delta militants through Sunday Okar, the junior brother of Henry Oka, the MEND leader. It started with the discovery of the Jaji incident in February 2007, which renewed another inquiry into the theft that has been taking place in Kaduna when Gen. Azazi was the GOC of 1 DIV. Investigations revealed that the two incidents were related. Maj Akubo, Sgt Mathias, LCpl Alexander, LCpl Moses and LCpl Nnamdi were the principal culprits in the incidents. The Kaduna theft was investigated and suppressed by SSS when Lt. KKK Are was its DG in collaboration with Azazi and one Maj Gen Adekhegba, then Director of Military Intelligence (DMI). Azazi continued to cover up the case, first in his capacity as GOC 1DIV, then later as COAS. It took the discovery of the Jaji theft in 2007 and the tenure of another DG of SSS to mount a conclusive investigation. None of the recommendations of the NAIC report were taken seriously except the court-martialling and jailing of Ma. Akubo and the soldiers involved. Sunday Okar was freed and presently aiding Jonathan in the case of the October 1 Bombings against this brother Henry.”

Payment for the stolen weapons were extracted from the state governors, James Ibori and DSP Alamieyeseigha, said the report. Since the activity continued well through Jonathan’s tenure as the Governor of Bayelsa state after Alamieyeseigha was impeached, it is safe to conclude that the caches of arms delivered during his tenure as governor were also paid by him. Only that the report fell short of mentioning his name since by the time it was submitted, he was already His Excellency, the Vice-President, but it strongly recommended that politicians involved in the scandal should be investigated to avoid a secessionist becoming the President of the country one day.

Yar’adua was not swift enough, as usual. Before he could decide to probe Jonathan and other Niger Delta governors that were involved in the scandal, his health deteriorated in a manner that remain secret. This time it was not his kidney, we were told by reports then. Rather, it was his lungs. Some alleged that he was poisoned through a microphone but the truth may never be known, as the details of his illness are yet to be declassified by the Nigerian and Saudi authorities.

What is known, however, is that the fear of the military panel that indicted Azazi came to pass, unfortunately for Nigeria. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn in as the President after the death of Yar’adua and the gates of the presidency and Nigerian security became automatically opened to General Azazi and his syndicate.

After General Aliyu Gusau (rtd) left the NSA office to unsuccessfully pursue his presidential ambition, Jonathan did not go fishing for an NSA. Azazi was already waiting. He appointed him the NSA in spite of the indictment, or precisely because of it. Who can be safer than the person who an Ijaw man shared the secrets of gun running activity before, the brain behind its militant struggle and the architect of its secessionist dream? And who could be a better choice of DG SSS? Guess: A Niger Delta loyalist, Ekpenyong.

The return of Azazi as the NSA witnessed the beginning of one the most violent phases of Nigerian history since after the civil war. First was the Independence Day bombings that were claimed by MEND. Despite the claim, the Jonathan political syndicate roped it on some northerners, principally Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in a move that will start a series of security blackmails to undermine the North. The nation was entertained even before any investigation would commence with this unbelievably awkward drama of the criminal on the one hand confessing “we did it” and the President on the other defending him by saying, “no you didn’t”. Raymond Dokpesi, the person at the centre of the allegation, a Niger Deltan and chief manager of Babangida’s campaign, would later be settled with a handsome payment of some billions of naira to his media AIT outfit. All the tales of the phone calls linking him to the bombings was thrown into the dustbin.

Well, the office of the NSA, Azazi, took over the matter. Today, I cannot remember what became of it. It is one of the secrets that Azazi might have carried to his grave. But it might not be the only one sharing his grave. Along with this are those of several investigations involving illegal importation of weapons into the country and many ordinary matters that are within the jurisdiction of the police or the custom to handle which the NSA emasculated into his domain of influence.

Then came the goldmine. Boko Haram. Activities of the group resumed and took a very violent form. Bombs started exploding in various places; some claimed by Boko Haram, others still remaining a mystery. Among the mysterious is the 2010 Christmas eve bombing in Jos. From some eyewitness accounts, it is still doubtful whether Boko Haram carried out that attack. But like the findings of every attack would be kept secret, nobody would be able to conclusively say what the truth is.

What is certain is how the office of the NSA became the centre of the fight against Boko Haram. Together with DG SSS, the duo would hijack the entire security operations in the country with the SSS, this time, competing with the police in claiming for arrests of Boko Haram suspects. For the first time in the history of the country, we saw the SSS holding press conferences on matters that are essentially criminal.

The whole Boko Haram saga is seen in the North as a plan orchestrated to decimate the region, which actually informed the initial apathy of the Jonathan regime to the crisis until the group started to hit Abuja. Immediately that happened, the President panicked and obliged virtually to anything that Azazi would request. I think he only turned down the suggestion to arrest Buhari, for which Azazi scolded him. We saw security share in our budget hiked to a whopping one quarter, for example, of which the office of the NSA would have the lion’s share. While the SSS itself with thousands of its operatives and branches nationwide would be allocated only N15billion, the NSA office with not more than 100 staff, most of them on secondment from different security outfits in the country, cornered N150billion.

While as the NSA, Azazi has successfully caged the President in the Villa. Hardly would the President visit anywhere in the country. Azazi has also helped to raise the alarm that the North is not a safe place, causing a number of Ambassadors to relocate to Lagos. The manner in which markets are burnt, how the military goes about extra-judicial killings of suspects and even recent assassination of Mamman Shuwa clearly indicate that there is a hidden hand behind Boko Haram in addition to the yusufiya members that are known to the public. Many believe that Azazi is the anchor of Boko Haram, though the allegation cannot be substantiated beyond the angle of inference.

Azazi tried hard to get the Americans to settle in the Niger Delta as part of its secessionist agenda. His call for strategic alliance with the Americans was politely turned down by the superpower. Judging through their long term strategic interest in the region, the Americans understood that an independent Banana republic of Niger Delta would not be a better secured place for Nigerian oil nor would their presence in the Chad Basin add any value to its strategic interest at a time it is trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan and other areas that brings its troops into direct contact with terrorists. It even refused to list Boko Haram among terrorist organizations, preferring to declare only three of its top leaders as terrorists. America did not stop there in punching Azazi’s balloon. It blamed the crisis on how the north is becoming increasingly alienated in the political and economic schemes of the country. On its part, America opened a cultural centre in the old city of Kano as a confidence building measure after the February 20 attacks by Boko Haram.

By early this year, the way Azazi was messing up was becoming very evident. Jonathan came under pressure to sack him especially after he publicly accused the ruling PDP of causing the Boko Haram crisis. The President sought to reassure the North by appointing Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) as the new NSA. I did not hide my reservations when I negatively commented on the appointment then. Now my point is clear because after his initial tour of the crises-ridden states of Borno, Yobe and Plateau, nothing is heard from the new NSA again.

The reason for the inaction of the new NSA had to do with the continuous presence of Azazi around the President. Until his death, Azazi was the de facto NSA; some would even say the de facto President. Jonathan could not extricate himself from him because of the elaborate network of Niger Delta terrorists and beneficiaries that have long held the President hostage. At the disposal of Azazi even after his sack were the privileges accorded every member of the President’s kitchen cabinet, a fact that became clear after the helicopter crash that terminated his life and security schemes. A retired person offered an executive governor a lift on a naval helicopter. Even with his demise, it is doubtful if the new NSA will have much say on the security of the country. The situation room of our internal security has long shifted from the NSA to the army headquarters.

Azazi has died as one of the richest generals in the country. He successfully made a number of leading militants his partners in multibillion-naira security contracts, including the concessioning of our maritime security. With his death too the allegations of his multibillion-naira properties in Abuja and elsewhere may be substantiated. Sadly, he did not live long to enjoy them.

He has also left behind the legacy of a conflict that only he understood. The Boko Haram insurgency will continue so long as it represents another tunnel through which our treasury would be looted massively, regardless of whom the bombs would kill – soldiers or civilians, Muslims or Christians. Despite its destructive nature, however, it can never break the North.

Azazi has also left behind a dream of building an independent Ijaw nation unaccomplished, though there still remains its army of ‘pardoned’ and ‘rehabilitated’ militants, many of whom received additional military training officially under the amnesty program only to abscond thereafter. His departure has undoubtedly created a vacuum that few Ijaw would fill, more so if the roadmap to the realization of that dream was only in the custody of his brain.

However, that is not the end of the story. He is leaving behind Nigeria – and the North that he worked so much to destroy. Both the country and the region have survived greater machinations in the past. Both of them will survive Boko Haram, the mutual hate induced crises in Plateau and Kaduna states, etc. The sun has set on Azazi but never will it set on this country the way some people think.

Azazi might have died a hero of his people, understandably. He was buried at Ijaw Heroes Park in Yenogoa. In the military and post-Jonathan Nigeria, however, little of him would be remembered better than his criminal record as an accomplice in Okar’s gunrunning activity that led to his compulsory retirement, his anchor of Niger Delta terrorism, his manipulation of Boko Haram, the unguarded utterances that led to his vacation of the NSA office, and then, his violent end in a helicopter crash.

Bye Azazi. Long Live Nigeria.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/mgkumo Muhammad Galadima Kumo

    “His departure has undoubtedly created a vacuum that few Ijaw would fill, more so if the roadmap to the realization of that dream was only in the custody of his brain”.Dr. Tilde. Oh how I loved these lines.

  • DESMOND

    Pathetic story fabricated by a man who has so much hate for the south,he never mentioned how the northerners have kept nigerians in perpetual poverty.we are not fooled by this write up at all.the writer lacks the ability to sell his nefarious work.you could see a tribalist venting his anger on a dead man who is no more to defend him self.poor you cos i didnt even care to look at your name.lets stick to the truth no matter whose ox is gored.millions of southerners were killed in the north during the pre-civil war and those who masterminded the act were not seen as vallians by this writter.boko haram is for real and is the handiwork of d elite northerners to distract jonathan.a word is enough for the wise.

    • Michael Atagher

      Very well written article. To all the dull tribalist commentators please address facts and stop making vague tribalist comments. This article clearly specifies facts and timelines that you can’t deny. This General was indicted on stealing guns from the army and selling to criminals for goodness sakes. The man was retired compulsorily for his nefarious activities. The fact that Nigerians will protect a criminal because he is from their place despite glaring evidence is indeed disgusting. That’s why corruption is rife from the North to the south because we refuse to face facts and tell ourselves the truth but instead accept ethnic and tribal sentiments instead.

      • Abu

        Danjos because of ur tribalistic nature, that is why u cnnt accept the truth. Tilde has done a lots of research and u u re there opening ur smelling mouth to say some rubbish. Make ur research nd prove him inocent if u can.

  • Danjos

    Aliyu, are you serious? Azazi is the mastermind of boko haram? He spearheaded yhe destrucrion of the north? A seccesionist building an ijaw nation? Your article is a perfect example of the problem with us in the north. Educated elites like you who whip up hateful sentiments and miseducate simple citizens to violent rage against christians, middle belt and southern brothers. If Azazi is the progenitor of boko haram, pray who is Shekau, who is al qaeda in the maghreb? Pray who is Shetimma, Senator Ndume? Who are the military officers actively working for boko haram? Who are the people killing Plateau citizens on a daily basis? Until we tell ourselves the truth, Northern Nigeria will continue to be in a morass and regular eflux. We have had a recurring orgy of religious massacre since I was a child and now Im 45 years old and you dare say he or niger deltans are the masterminds of boko haram? Haba mallam ka rage mana!

    • mai cin kare

      baza a rage ba. Allah ya tona muku asiri

    • dan ijaw

      left to me all the bombings after October 2010 were msterminded by azazi and his god fathers

      • kulu so

        U are being economical with d truth or blinded by bigotry to say dat, even GMB believed there are 3 types of BH now, d yusufiyya members, crimninal bh, also d one sponsored. If ur hypothesis holds, how would u describe senator ndume, zanna’s involvement? Or was it azazi dat lured dem? Typical hausa memntality , just like u people believed the north was d only section feeding d country before oil, eventhough other sections also contributed 50percent to central govt, or your fore fathers didn’t tell you d west had cocoa,and other cash crops and timber, east had palm oil? Don’t believe what tilde wrote. October 2010 bombing was carried out by niger delta thugs and jonathan was aware of it. Shikena.

        • aboki

          what’s the difference btw nyamiri and Igbo

          • aboki

            Nyamiri mentality!

          • Biafraforlife

            Dog, you are, aboki. You ppl are animals.

  • Hamza Aliyu

    Any commentator who is ready to depend Azazi shoul use facts, the way Dr. Tilde qouted in his 5th paragrap the report of Nigerian Army Intelligence Corp (NAIC) that indicted Azazi in the colossal theft of weapons from the military warehouses in Kaduna and Jaji when he was the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division of the Nigerian Army. The truth is bitter

    • Objectivity

      All those parocial, sentimental cretins dat find it difficult 2 comprehend a simple, unambiguous & direct 2 d point write up lik dis shud go 2 ‘Hell’ or @ d least, stop bringing in issues dat are off point. Azazi committed a heinous & dastardly act, of which som of us were previleged to kno even b4 dis write up. & instead of him 2 b condemned by d authority dat b, he was elevated 2 a very high & sensitive position in d country he betrayed, by breaking his Oath of honesty, nonpartisan, etc in d discharge of his duty as a military officer. & now d simple truth being said & som numbskulls are shouting & disturbing us wit dr crabs. Du u all tink If a northern does dis kind of treacherous act & u guys complain we’ll respond?! No, we won’t. But a true northerner aint lik dat. Let’s learn 2 always call a spade a spade….. Weldon Aliyu Tilde

  • naima

    Dr Tilde thank you so much for this contribution,I read history & community development but never came across such an inspiring and motivational write up till now. We shall see the rise of a new era in Nigeria inshaa Allah

  • Danjos

    Azazi may have a case to answer on criminal weapons sales or corruption (that is all you provided evidence on). He may even be a criminal just like a whole lot of the bunch of leaders in Nigeria today. But the rest of your article is based on innuendos and intellectual laziness. Nobody wants to decimate northern Nigeria but you and your likes. By the way does your northern nigeria include Plateau and Benue states? Does your northern Nigeria include Christians or Ibos, Ijaws, Ngas, Beroms, Igalas, Urhobos in the various sabon garis? If your northern Nigeria is only Hausa/Fulani muslims, please count us out of this your Sabre rattling. Nigerians are dying in droves because of the myopia of people like you. The North fought the Ibos during the civil war. The North fought the Yorubas during the Abacha years, now the North if left to you will fight the Ijaws. Why? Are you not tired of the blood letting? Stop inciting hausa fulani people to hatred. A criminal is a criminal. The crime is against Nigeria not against Hausa Fulani. If Azazi is a criminal say so and show facts but stop giving it an ethnic and religious coloration.

  • Abu

    Looking back to d history of Nigeria from inpendence and beyond. Is there any Northerner dat instigate any uprising or civilwar? How many southerns,westherns or easterns leader are killed by Northerners? But u will agree that Sardauna, Tafawa Balewa and Murtala were killed by southern,Westhern nd eastern who they believed to be their close associate nd yet u re turning ur faces away from what is true.

    • aboki

      that’s why some people ironsi, major kaduna, azazi would not live long to actualize their agenda. God knows why …

  • http://twitter.com/supersuser KMD

    Long Live Nigeria…… And some are seemingly sweating over the retracting drawbridge of regional power.

  • Adeola

    You are obviously a sick fellow, azazi behind boko harram, azazi not allowing dasuki to work, azazi wanted ijaw nation, azazi has soo much northen foot soldiers that he can blow things up in yobe, borno, kano….etc.

    Oh! He gave a lift to the governor? Uhn, the chopper that has carried people 15times dat day!

    The Truth will always prevail

    You are a tribalist! And should be ignored!

    • Dan-Ilori……

      Hahahhahaha…..am surpriise….so u r still on d 15 trips of dt helicopter????? I think u r out of date….as it has been proved by d one of the key organizers of d event dt d chopper made a single trip………..#SMH

  • David Solomon

    History has always repeated that he who live by the sword, will die by the sword………
    davidsolomon@hotmail.com

  • Aliyu muhammad

    Thank you Aliyu for your insight on this issue

  • nasir

    Aliyu tilde made obvious attempt at hiding his religous and ethnic bigotry in this article by quoting some datas that are unverifiable,not open to nigerians,but nigerians know his ilk. I laughed reading through d comment section,northerners pray for tilde, southerners defend azazi or so I think. Its becoming obvious some people mainly from d north believe they are d only patriotic nigerians,as such they condemn others who don’t see things their way,I ask dem where were they when yaradua left d country without doing d proper thing,and his inner cabal of which tilde is one of them prevented deputy pres jona from acting,back then northerners were defending yaradua,southerners were abusing dem for being unpatriotic. Certainly we never had dis much hausa/fulanis coming like dis on net back den,the few available defended yaradua till death. Now d game has changed,jona is the president, and messing up, northerners condemn him ,southerners defend him, and d northerners are shocked to see that,if only they remembered 2yrs ago when dey also defended yaradua blindly. Tilde heaped a lot of accusations on azazi, agreed he is a gun runner,blah blah, he’s not patriotic.he accused him of mismanaging d billions voted for security. He accused him of being behind boko haram, etc, any sensible hausa fulani or northerner who possess deep introspection wouldn’t fall for such cheap tirade,1 was azazi charged for any offence?,was he convicted by the army, if azazi did gunrunning, and he commited crime against d state and ought not to become d nsa, what about aliyu gusua? A serial COUPIST, who participated in overthrow of different govt, especially shehu shagari? But he was made nsa by obj! If azazi embezzeled money, I’d like tilde to tell me where he was when TY danjuma got his oil block, d source of gusua’s wealth to made him want to run for presidency, who are d backers of buhari 3x, where is the gulf oil wind fall? Because in Tilde’s mind ,azazi is d only govt appointee that has ever stolen our money. Also if azazi was responsible for boko haram, what about d uprising in 2009 in maiduguri, who sponsored it, who killed yusuf, these event happened before azazi became NSA. Of d billions allocated to nsa office, tilde would blame azazi of stealing,but azazi has been fired over 4months now, a relative of tilde took over, how is he spending d money, col sambo is d nsa, how is he spending d money? For d period of azazi’s stint as nsa, people like tilde, elrufai,bashir yusuf will always come on social media to vigourously accuse him of not doing enough, they accuse him of just spending money ,blah blah, since their cousin(col sambo) took over, I have never for once heard or seen el rufai, bashir yusuf or their hirelings on social media direct their attack against col sambo as being in effective or lacking d capacity to do the job. Not once have they blamed sambo,but they will always blame azazi when he was there. Its similar to how el rufai always defend sanusi’s action even when some of sanusi actions are indefensible. Some nigerians can see through this bigotry of el rufai, tilde and others, that’s why jona will av his supporters eventhough he’s a misfit for d presidency!!!

    • Dan Arewa

      @nasir. U obviously have a shallow brain, DrTilde was slightly sentimental in his write up, I agree. Bt u didn’t seem to get d real message in the story or rather u choose nt to get it bcos ur eyes are blurred by bigotry hatred for the Hausa fulanis. Dr Tilde went too far to make some unguarded statements that he cannot defend bt I think the real shocker in the write up is that hw can sum1 who has been indicted of selling arms to militants fighting Nigeria and forcefully retired only to return few months later to hold the most sensitive security seat in the nation, it’s like calling ojukwu to be Nigerias chief of defence 3 months after the civil war.
      And secondly, Nigeria is facing it’s worst times since independence in this boko haram era, and all dis happened while azazi is the National Security Adviser, this is a rank higher than the IG and DG SSS, therefore even in his life or after his death he can never be regarded as a hero bt rather an accessory to the menace. If he couldn’t solved the crisis he should have resign, bcos, knowing you can’t stop it and holding on to d seat of NSA while the crisis escalate automatically proves u’re an accessory either consciously or unconciously.
      No matter hw bad this boko haram menace gets, Azazi wether he knos it or nt ws part of the people who aided and abetted the menace. Therefore, Azazi is nt and will never be the hero they claimed him to be at his burial.

  • http://twitter.com/Elmustee Certified Dude

    That is a very elaborate assessment of Gen Azazi. It is no secret that when jonathan take over power, the first thing he did is appoint his kingsmen to all the sensitive jobs in Nigeria, of which Azazi is one of them. Now look at the current setting of his ministers, virtually all the critical areas is occupied by his people. From Ngozi to Diezani, need me not to mention names. Infact Jonathan is the most tribalistic bigot president Nigeria has ever had, no wonder it is during his tenure that the country is witness it most bloodiest phase as a nation. Thank you Dr. Tilde for this enlightening piece!

  • Suleiman Imam R

    Your well resaerched article is but indeed a timely one. Insecurity in the country was handled perfectly by late President Yar’adua though N’Delta socalled millitants saga via amnesty.
    Azzazi & GEJ might hope at the face of crises many critics would keep off their critical opinons.
    Let ur also further investigate while Dansuki is operatin silently, or to many Nigerians he is inactive. No commen from even at the face of technical disorder that led to the planes crash & car gashly accident which claim souls of dignitaries & left others permanently injured; u Suntai, Wada, Yakowa,Azazi &host of others.
    We seek u must relate the original fact about this people| they have served their nation one way or the other. They deserve a state honor n tribute. Azazi is gone let him rest.

  • Mr. Tender

    @74d597962afaacba07f2421c0f86239a:disqus Allah will reward for speaking the truth…. the likes of Dr.

    Aliyu U. Tilde are the contributors on the crisis we are having the northern part of Nigeria.