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Shagaya, Soldier, Political Leader, Technocrat Dies At 75



A former Minister of Internal Affairs, General John Shagaya (rtd) is dead. He died yesterday at the age of 75 in a ghastly road accident along Langtang-Pankshin road in Plateau State.

Confirming Shagaya’s death to LEADERSHIP on telephone in Jos, a former chairman of Langtang North local government area, Chief Dan Dul, described the death of the former Senator as very unfortunate.

He said the 75-year-old retired army general who was returning to Jos from Langtang when he got involved in the motor accident in Amper died on the spot.

“Shagaya was traveling along with his driver and orderly when the accident occurred, but the two survived with serious injuries and are receiving treatment at the hospital”, he said, adding that his remains had been conveyed to an undisclosed mortuary.

Dul regretted that General Shagaya died at a critical moment when his wise counsel is needed at the state and federal level.

He said, “General Shagaya will be missed for his intelligent and intellectual contributions to the development of Plateau State and the country in general. He has served in various capacities as far as this country is concerned. Indeed, we miss him.

“The entire Taroh nation mourn the death of this worthy son who has not only contributed to the growth and development of Taroh land, but Plateau and the country in general”.

The late Shagaya was recently appointed chairman of the governing board of the highest elite intellectual institution in Nigeria, NIPPS. He recently lost his wife, Mrs Philomena Shagaya.

His Legacy Will Live On – PMB

Reacting to the late General Shagaya’s demise, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed profound sadness over the tragic accident that claimed the life of the former minister, saying his legacies will live on.

In a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari offered his heartfelt condolences to the Shagaya family, friends, the government and people of Plateau State on the painful passing of their illustrious son.

Adesina said, “The President paid tribute to the great Nigerian whose legacies will live on in the patriotic work he did as a military officer, who rose to the position of a General, and a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic that ably represented the Plateau Southern zone.

“The President affirmed that at each step of his distinguished career in national service and politics, General Shagaya brought his deep convictions and discipline to national, regional and community assignments and was ready to always offer his best to the development and stability of the country”

The presidential spokesman added that President Buhari prayed God Almighty to “comfort all who mourn him and grant his soul eternal rest”.

ACF, IBB, Useni, Akilu, Others Mourn

Also, The apex Northern sociocultural body, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and some other prominent Nigerian yesterday mourned then late General John Shagaya.

The ACF said it received with shock and grief the sad news of the passing away of Shagaya who, until his death, was its vice chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT).

ACF, in a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, noted that the late elder statesman will be remembered for his commitment to national unity, selfless service to his father land, vision and intellect.

The Forum stated: “The late Sen Dr. Shagaya was a fine officer gentleman who started his soldiering career from Nigerian Military School, Zaria and attained the rank of Brig-General in the Nigerian Army. Gen Shagaya held many command positions in the Army. He was at one time Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs.

“After retirement, Sen Shagaya engaged in scholarly pursuits and obtained a PhD in defense and strategic studies. He also joined politics and was elected Senator of the Federal Republic in 2007.

“The late Dan Buram Langtang had written so many books and presented papers at different conferences and seminars on good governance. His book, “Governance in Nigeria”, was a consummate work of research and scholarship.

“He was recently appointed as Chairman, Governing Council, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos by President Muhammad Buhari. Nigeria has lost one of its fineness politician, a bridge builder and a leader who lived a simple and humble life.

“ACF extends its condolences to the Shagaya family, the Government and the good people of Plateau State and all Nigerians on the demise of Sen Dr. John N Shagaya. May his gentle soul rest in peace”.

On his part, former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), also said he received with shock the sudden demise of General Shagaya.

He described General Shagaya as one of the most brilliant military officers of his time and a bridge builder who was committed to the unity of Nigeria as a nation.


He stated that Shagaya was a just and fair officer who treated people equally, irrespective of ethnicity and religion, adding that his death was a great loss to Nigeria.


For his part, former FCT Minister, General Jeremiah Useni (rtd), said the news of Shagaya’s death took him by surprise.

Useni, a serving Senator, said, “It was indeed a sad and a shocking news to me. Curiously, General Joe Garba, a brother to John shagaya died as DG of National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPPS) and now, Shagaya has died as chairman, board of Directors of NIPSS.

“I miss a brother in Brig Gen John Nanzip Shagaya (rtd). He left behind him indelible footprints of professionalism, both in the military and in politics. He was a man of integrity, personal honour, service and passionate commitment to the best Nigerian ideals”.

Useni who spoke through his media aide, Abubakar Ateeku Yusuf, prayed Shagaya’s soul to rest in peace.

Also, a former Chief of Defence Intelligence (DMI), Brig-Gen Halilu Ali Akilu, described Shagaya’s demise as a great loss to him.

He said, “To me, this was a personal loss, as we were very close. It is a pity that we just buried John Madaki and we are hearing the demise of this fine gentleman. This is sad news and may God forgive him his shortcomings.

“The late General Shagaya was a nice gentleman and a committed officer. I was very close to him and we have been together since the time of the civil war. In fact, our families are very close. I feel a sense of personal loss”.

Former Senate president, David Mark, said he was devastated by the news of Shagaya’s death.

He said, “I am shocked. I am sad. He was my friend, comrade and colleague. He was among the best and fertile minds in the Armed Forces during our days in the Nigerian Army. He believed in the sanctity of our unity. He believed in the rule of law and in a society where every citizen is free to pursue his or her legitimate ambition in any part of the country without fear of molestation or intimidation.

“After our retirement from the Army, we reunited again in the 6th Senate in the service to our fatherland. His death is a huge personal loss to me. I have lost a bosom friend, a pathfinder and a patriot. Nigeria has lost one of her finest and fertile minds.

“I am however consoled that he left his positive footprint on the sand of time. I am convinced that his legacy of uncommon commitment to the ideals of nation hood will endure and will be a reference point in many years to come”.

Also, the president, Alumni Association of the National Defence College, Abuja, Brig-Gen Jonathan Temlong (rtd), Said Shagaya’s death was a sad and tragic incident.

He said, “It came as a rude shock to me. The entire Taroh nation, Plateau State and indeed Nigeria will miss his wise counsel. An officer and a fine gentleman is gone.

“He died at a time his services were mostly needed. This is a man who was appointed chairman of the Council of NIPSS and was waiting to be sworn-in so he could do what he knows how to do best, which is service.

Also, a member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State, Timothy Golu said the loss of Senator Shagaya at this time was a painful.

“It is a great loss, not just for Plateau but Nigeria as a whole, not just the military but the entire intellectual community.

He is a strategist and very sound. He was as an asset by every standard, courageous, bold, strong-willed and always ready for pubic engagement”. 

Life And Times Of The Late Shagaya

John Nanzip Shagaya was born September 2, 1942. He was a Nigerian Senator and former senior military officer who was elected in April 2007 to represent the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Plateau State as member of the Nigerian Senate for Plateau South. He ran for reelection in April 2011 on the Labour Party (LP) platform, but was defeated by Victor Lar of the PDP. As a non-commissioned officer (NCO) with the 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron in Abeokuta, he participated in the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966.

John Shagaya was born on September, 2nd 1942 to Mallam Sikji Miri Wazhi, fondly called Shagaya and Mrs. Maryamu Zwancit. He attended Junior Primary School at Nyer, and Sudan United Mission Primary School, Langtang (1952–1959). He studied at the Nigerian Military School Zaria 1960-1964.

After graduation, Shagaya was posted to the Nigerian Army Corps and later posted to 3 Marine Commando when he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant. He participated with the Marine Commando in the Nigeria Civil War (1967–1970). His later appointments included Grade Three staff officer Nigeria Army School of Infantry, Jaji, Director of Cadets, Nigerian Defence Academy, Director of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Brigade Commander, 9 Mechanised Infantry Brigade, Military Secretary, Army Headquarters, and General Officer Commanding, 1st Mechanised Infantry Division

Under the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida, Shagaya was Minister of Internal Affairs, a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council and a member of the Police Council. He also served as chairman of the committee set up in 1987 to decide on Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Shagaya was involved in drafting the main protocols for the Economic Community of West African States. As a member of the National Boundary Commission, he helped resolve disputes with Benin and Chad.

He was appointed Field Commander in the ECOMOG Peacekeeping Force in Liberia in September 1993, relieving Major General Tunji Olurin.

Shagaya, as a Corporal with the 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron in Abeokuta, was one of the many soldiers of Northern Nigerian origin who staged what became known as the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966.

The late Shagaya was also Director of Lion Bank (Nigeria) between 1998 and 2003 and a foundation member of the United Nigeria People’s Party (UNPP), running unsuccessfully for the Senatorial seat of Plateau South in 1999 elections. Before the 2003 elections, he joined the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), but was defeated again.

He was elected as Senator for Plateau South in April 2007 under the PDP platform. His election was challenged and nullified by the elections petition tribunal, but in December 2008 a Court of Appeal in Jos upturned the decision and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately issue a Certificate of Return to Shagaya.

In June 2009, Shagaya warned that offering an amnesty to the Niger Delta militants might not end the violence, as the militants might hide their best weapons and return only disused and damaged ones.

Curiously, Shagaya lost his wife after a brief illness last year. They are however survived by eight children and 13 grandchildren.