Rrt. Col. Sambo Dasuki Appointed to Replace NSA Azazi
CATCHING most observers unawares after his return from his trip to Brazil on Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan announced the replacement of his government’s
National Security Adviser, Gen Andrew Azazi, appointing in his place another retired Nigerian Army officer, Col. Sambo Dasuki, a cousin of the current Sultan of Sokoto and former aid de camp to former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida.
Also sacked on Friday was the federal minister of defense, Mohammed Bello Haliru.
"The NSA has been dropped ... The minister of defence has also been dropped," the president’s chief media advisor Reuben Abati revealed in a message by social media outlet Twitter, after initially announcing through the same medium earlier in the day that the president would convene a high-level security meeting on his arrival from Brazil.
The trip to Brazil for the yearly ‘Earth Summit’ was itself severely criticized by Nigerians, who described the president decision to attend the summit as insensitive at a time when Nigerians are being slaughtered by the dozens in the northern part of the country.
The president office responded to the criticisms by stating that it had deliberated extensively with security officials prior to embarking on the trip and dispatched top level officials to the epicenter of the violence in Kaduna.
The presidency also explained that the attacks happened on the eve of the president’s departure for Brazil to attend the international event to which he had committed, making it difficult to back out of the event.
The action comes amid growing concerns about the security challenges in Nigeria, spotlighted last week by the spike in attacks by the killer terror group popularly known as Boko Haram, who continue to target and murder Christians in their places of worship. The group has claimed responsibility for the last two major attacks in the city of Kaduna in Kaduna State and in Damaturu, in Yobe State.
The new National Security Officer, Col. Dasuki, besides hailing from an influential northern background, was also implicated in a 1995 coup attempt against the government of former dictator Sani Abacha. He went into exile in the United States afterward.
It is not yet clear who will replace defence minister Bello Mohammed.
Several days of unrest began Sunday in Kaduna state, with suicide attacks at three churches that killed at least 16 people and sparked reprisals by Christian mobs, who burned mosques and killed dozens of Muslims.
More rioting broke out in Kaduna later in the week, while on Monday and Tuesday, shootouts between security forces and suspected Islamists in the northeastern city of Damaturu left at least 40 people dead.
At least 106 people were killed in the days of violence.