Umaru Shinkafi, An Icon of National Security, Dies in UK

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  • Buhari, THISDAY, Bankole, others mourn

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto

President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Board of the THISDAY Newspaper Group, and Chief Olayiwola Alani Bankoke, among others, have expressed sadness over the passing of foremost national security chief, elder statesman, vice-presidential candidate in the 1999 presidential election, and presidential aspirant in the Third Republic, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, at the age of 79.

The deceased, who held the title Marafan Sokoto and hailed from Shinkafi Local Government Area in Zamfara State, died yesterday evening at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex in the United Kingdom after a protracted illness.
Sources in the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto revealed that the deceased passed away in the company of his wives, children and extended family members.

Shinkafi’s remains would be flown back to Nigeria for burial on Friday in accordance with Islamic rites.
Born in Kaura Namoda, Zamfara State in January 1937, Shikafi attended Sokoto Middle School and later Barewa College, Zaria. He obtained a degree in Law after his secondary school education, and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1974.
After a career in the Nigeria Police Force, the deceased held the post of Federal Commissioner for Internal Affairs before his appointment as the Director General of the National Security Organisation (NSO) – the precursor to the Department of State Services (DSS) – under the Shehu Shagari administration.

He would be remembered during his time as the head of Nigeria’s security apparatus of forewarning former President Shagari of the impending coup plot to overthrow his government, but the then president failed to heed the warning.
Shagari was overthrown by then Major-General Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 1983, effectively truncating the Second Republic.

He was later to throw his hat into the ring as a presidential aspirant on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1992.

He again contested as Chief Olu Falae’s running mate on the All Peoples Party/Alliance for Democracy platform in the 1999 presidential election, but lost to the duo of Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar.

He was at some point the Chairman of the International Bank for West Africa (later the defunct Afribank Plc and Mainstreet Bank Limited which was acquired by Skye Bank Plc in 2014).

The late Marafan Sokoto was the elder brother to the former governor of Zamfara State, Mamuda Shinkafi.
He was also the Pro-chancellor of the Sokoto State University and the in-law to Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State.

He is survived by three wives and five children. One of his wives, Hajiya Lubabatu, is the daughter of late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the defunct Northern region.

His first daughter Aisha Umaru Shinkafi is currently the Zamfara State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry.
Reacting to the news of his demise, Buhari yesterday commiserated with the government and people of Zamfara State on the passing of one of their illustrious sons, Alhaji Shinkafi.

Buhari, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, described the departed politician, administrator and technocrat as an expert whose contributions to the development of the security architecture of Nigeria remained indelible.

Buhari recalled that the former commissioner and NSO boss played a frontline role in the activities leading to the eventual return and enthronement of democracy in the country.

He called on family members, friends and associates of the departed community leader to take solace in the fact that Shinkafi played the parts assigned to him diligently, conscientiously and patriotically, enjoining them to emulate the good virtues that he left behind.

Buhari prayed that Almighty Allah would grant the soul of the departed eternal rest.

Similarly, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar described the late Marafan Sokoto as a remarkably decent and disciplined politician who would be greatly missed by Nigerians.

In a condolence message from his media office, Atiku recalled that Shinkafi was one of the “most intelligent, visceral and deeply informed and principled politicians” he had ever known.

According to Atiku, the late Shinkafi was so independent-minded that he and his political associates were denied registration by the General Sani Abacha military government, adding that the deceased was never timid to forcefully express his opinion on national issues.

The Turakin Adamawa said Shinkafi would be greatly remembered as “one of the brightest stars in the galaxy of Nigerian politics for his total commitment to democracy and the rule of law”.

He said the deceased always inspired respect not only for being a repository of knowledge, but for also being a consummate public servant and one of the best of his generation.

He condoled the Shinkafi family, the people and governments of Sokoto and Zamfara over his death and prayed to Allah to grant Shinkafi eternal rest in peace.

The Board of the THISDAY Newspaper Group also conveyed its condolences to the governments and people of Zamfara and Sokoto, and to his family over the passing of the security chief and politician.

A statement from the board, recalled that the late Shinkafi, among others, played a significant role in mentoring the THISDAY Newspaper Group at its infancy.

“In addition to his several roles in public administration and as a politician, the THISDAY Group would not forget the role he played as a friend of the house, his mentorship and wise counsel, when the newspaper was at its infancy in 1995.

“His guidance and mentorship were invaluable and helped THISDAY to remain on course in the face of daunting challenges,” it said.

The board prayed for the soul of the departed and for God to grant Shinkafi eternal rest.
In addition, foremost businessman, Chief Olayiwola Alani Bankole and father of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, expressed his heartfelt sorrow over the demise of the late Shinkafi, who he described as a “close, dear brother”.

Speaking to THISDAY last night, he said: “Personally, I have lost a close, dear brother, and Nigeria has lost a consummate security expert, excellent administrator, a bridge builder across all tribes, and one of the presidents Nigeria never had.

“We shall all miss him dearly, but my consolation and that of his friends and family is that he lived a very good life and served this country to the best of his ability.”

Chief Bankole, who holds the traditional title, Seriki Jagunmolu of Egbaland and was the former National Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), prayed that God grants the late Shinkafi “Aljana Fridau” (eternal rest), and condoled with the Sultan of Sokoto caliphate, the entire members of the Shinkafi family and the security services family of Nigeria.

Dogara also commiserated with the government and people of Zamfara and all Nigerians over the death of the late Shinkafi.

The speaker, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Turaki Hassan, in Lagos, described the death of the elder statesman as a huge loss to the nation.

He said Shinkafi was a true democrat who contributed immensely towards the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999.

“In all his years in public service, Shinkafi distinguished himself as a patriot, committed and dedicated Nigerian,” the speaker said.

“He served the nation with distinction as a lawyer, police officer, Federal Commissioner for Internal Affairs and intelligence chief in the National Security Organisation before joining politics,” he added.
The speaker said the late Shinkafi was a bridge-builder, cosmopolitan and lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation.

“Our hearts go out to his immediate family, government and people of Zamfara State over the irreparable loss,” he said.

Former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, in his reaction, described Shinkafi’s death as a monumental loss not only to people of Zamfara but to Nigeria as a whole.

A statement signed by his media aide, Malam Yusuf Dingyadi, described Shinkafi as a diligent intelligence officer who worked to uplift the standards of security services in the country
The statement noted that Shinkafi was among the frontline politicians who strived for the survival of democracy during the military era.

“Shinkafi fought well for the survival of democracy during the military era and his leadership qualities would be greatly missed,” the statement concluded.

Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Abia governor, also expressed shock over the demise of Shinkafi.
According to Kalu, the late Marafan Sokoto was a perfect gentleman and a patriotic statesman, who was committed to the cause of a just and fair society.

A statement signed by his aide, Kunle Oyewumi, said: “The demise of Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi is a huge loss to the nation considering his contributions to the social, economic and political development of Nigeria.
“Having served in different capacities, especially in the public sector, he died at a time his counsel on national issues was most needed.

“Alhaji Shinkafi was a detribalised Nigerian and he built friendships and relationships beyond the boundaries of the north.

“The demise of the Marafan Sokoto has created a big vacuum in political circles.
“The memories of the late police officer will linger forever in the minds of many in the society.
“However, we take solace in the fact that he left behind good legacies.”

Kalu, while enjoining the deceased’s family to be comforted in the purposeful life their patriarch lived, urged them to sustain the exemplary qualities of the late philanthropist.