Escalating violence that has claimed many lives and property in parts of the north yesterday forced President Goodluck Jonathan to kick out the national security adviser, General Andrew Azazi, and the minister of defence, Alhaji Haliru Mohammed Bello.
Retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, was immediately named as Azazi's replacement. There was no word on who to take over from Bello.
A visibly angry Jonathan had summoned all the service chiefs and security heads to an emergency meeting in the presidential villa, shortly after his arrival from Brazil, where he attended the UN Earth Summit along with other world leaders.
A source at the presidency told our correspondent that Jonathan was forced to sack the affected officials because of their inability to check incessant attacks by the Boko Haram sect.
The source hinted that the president was fed up with Azazi, a fellow Ijaw man whose tenure had witnessed an escalation of deadly bombings and other atrocities in the country without appropriate response from the security agencies.
"Do not forget that the former NSA openly politicised his office by making statements that were considered unfavourable to the northern part of the country."
"There was therefore mounting pressure from that part of the country that he (Azazi) should be shown the way out," the source explained.
At the South-South Economic Forum held in Asaba last April, Azazi hit the Peoples in Democratic Party, accusing it of fuelling the crisis in the country by excluding certain persons from taking part in the election, contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
The presidency and the PDP were taken aback by Azazi's statement, as they could not understand why someone in his position should openly accuse the president's party.
It was also gathered that, apart from the offending statement by Azazi, which pitted him against the president and the ruling PDP, pressure from some interested countries and intelligence reports that the north was unhappy with him paved the way for his removal.
The source said that the former defence minister, Haliru Bello was removed because of incompetence and total lack of knowledge about the defence portfolio.
Bello was apparently compensated with the job of defence minister for his role as the acting national chairman of the PDP. He was part of the campaign for the election of Jonathan as president in April 2011.
But presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, said yesterday that the removal of the two men had nothing to do with their performance.
He said, "What I can tell you is that the decision that has been taken is part of the attempt by the president to ensure that the Nigerian people are well protected."
President Jonathan is determined to ensure the safety and the security of lives and property."
He warned that he would no longer tolerate a situation where the violent sect would kill and maim innocent persons without appropriate response from the security agencies.
A presidency source said that Jonathan was angry over the large number of persons killed by the sect in many parts of the north over the months.
The security chiefs present at the meeting were the chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin; chief of army staff, General Onyeabo Azubuike Ihejirika; chief of air staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar; and inspector-general of police, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar.
Azazi, who was also present at the meeting, learnt of his sack shortly after the meeting with Jonathan.
The man Sambo Dasuki
Mohammed Sambo Dasuki is a former managing director of the Security Printing & Minting Company Limited. A distinguished retired military officer, he attended American universities - Washington DC and George Washington University, where he obtained a BA in International Relations and MA in Security Policy Studies respectively.
He had his military training in several institutions in Nigeria and abroad including: Army School of Artillery, Oklahoma, U.S; Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth Kansas.
Dasuki, who is the son of deposed Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, was the aide-de-camp, to former military president, Ibrahim Babangida.
His selection as the new NSA might have been spearheaded by Babangida and former NSA Gen. Mohammed Gusau.