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General Andrew Owoeye Azazi (1952 – 2012)

General Andrew Owoeye Azazi (1952 – 2012)

General Andrew Owoeye Azazi (retired) was the National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan until June 22, 2012. He was also former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) during former President, Chief Olusegun ‘s tenure. General Azazi also served as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between 2006 and 2007. He replaced General Martin Luther Agwai. Before his appointment as COAS, he was General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Kaduna.

General Andrew Owoeye Azazi (1952 – 2012)

Azazi was born at Peretorugbene in Bayelsa State on February 1, 1952. He had his early education in old Bendel State of Nigeria where he attended Government College, Bomadi, and graduated in the class of 1968, after which he joined the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Combatant Cadet – Course 12 on July 3, 1972. Career Azazi was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 14 December 1974. At the end of the combined training he won the bronze medal for being first in Art subjects.

He served as Brigade Intelligence Officer, Divisional Intelligence Officer and Colonel Coordination, Headquarters Directorate of Military Intelligence. He was assistant Defence Attaché at the Embassy of Nigeria, Washington DC, United States, for three years. He served as member of Directing Staff of the Command and Staff College from where he was posted to Lagos Garrison Command as Intelligence Officer and subsequently to the Directorate of Military Intelligence as Colonel Coordination.

He was later posted to the Training and Doctrine Command as Colonel Research and Development and Director of Training. On graduation from War College, he was appointed Colonel General Staff, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army and later Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, Defence Intelligence Agency. General Azazi also served as a member of Directing Staff of the National War College, Abuja, rising to become its Principal Staff Officer Coordination. He was appointed Director of Military Intelligence in 2003.

The senior officer was an external examiner at the National War College and a Guest Lecturer on Military Operations Other Than War and Revolution in Military Affairs. General Azazi was a member of Nigeria’s Defence Policy Review Committee 2000/2001. He was appointed Chairman of the Committee of Nigerian Army in the Next Decade in May 2004. He was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army in January 2005, and subsequently appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in June 2006. On August 20, 2008, Umaru Yar’Adua replaced Azazi with Paul Dike as CDS and announced Azazi’s retirement from military service.

Azazi had one of the fastest growing military careers in present day democracy in Nigeria, between May 2006 and June 2007 the General wore the ranks of Major General, Lieutenant General and General. On October 4, 2010, he was appointed National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan. General Owoeye Azazi gave his daughter in marriage on September 11. 2010, at the Church of Assumption, Ikoyi, Lagos.

In June 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan sacked him. Counterterrorism issues Azazi emerged from retirement to assume the National Security Adviser (NSA) post as a civilian. He inherited a range of challenges from extremists, including the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in his native region, and the rise of a new violent Islamist group called Boko Haram, which first emerged in 2009.

Shortly after taking office, Azazi presided over the interception and public exposure of a large illegal shipment of weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran. He did not speculate publicly on the origin of the weapons, and left it up to the Foreign Ministry to make the official allegation before the United Nations. News accounts differ as to the destination of the arms, with Israeli reports saying they were headed for Gaza, and others, including Nigerian government sources, saying they were to be smuggled elsewhere in West Africa, including to rebels based in Senegal and The Gambia.

Nigerian officials arrested an Iranian national reported to be a senior officer with the Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and placed him on trial. The Iranian government called the shipments a “misunderstanding”. As National Security Adviser, Azazi worked with other countries, notably African neighbours, European countries and the United States, toward developing a new security and counterterrorism strategy.

In the autumn of 2010, he met with then CIA Director, Leon Panetta, at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In August 2011, Azazi held meetings with US AFRICOM Commander, Gen. Carter F. Ham, about American training and sharing intelligence to combat Boko Haram and Niger Delta extremists. He attended a CIA event in California in November. On Christmas Day, 2011, the White House confirmed that U.S. officials had been in communication with top Nigerian officials to combat terrorism.

Azazi took a systematic approach to the reform of Nigeria’s security and intelligence apparatus, with a low-key demeanor that some critics have termed indifference. He was quoted as saying that real reform comes with human development of national security personnel and officials and greater citizen participation, and not with mere documents, statements, and bureaucratic or leadership rearrangements. Personal life He was married with five children, three sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, a grand daughter and two grandsons.

His hobbies included reading biographies, Nigerian music and playing squash.

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