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Brig-Gen Abdurrahman Kuliya: A tribute

I have two examples to give to buttress this claim. First, when Gen AB Dambazau (former Chief of Army Staff) was a Directing Staff (DS)…

I think it was late Gen Ahmad Abdullahi or Otulana who was the Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) when the late Brig. Gen Abdurrahman Kuliya was posted to Headquarters, Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps (HQ NAIC) on passing out from the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA). I was then, a Major and Gen Akilu’s Military Assistant at the National Intelligence Agency. I was invited to attend their formal introduction to DMI. I spotted Abdurrahman Kuliya’s name in the list of the young officers posted to NAIC. This was for two reasons. One, his older brother, Barrister Maliki Kuliya, a former Commissioner for Justice in Kano was two years my junior in Secondary School at Birnin-Kudu and same at Bayero University, Kano.

Secondly, I knew his father, Liman Kuliya, a renowned Muslim cleric and Chief Imam of Kano Central Juma’ah Mosque. When, then second lieutenant, Abdurrahman Kuliya and other young officers were brought for a formal introduction to the DMI, he saw my nametag bearing my surname and immediately realised, I was from Kano. After the introduction, he came back to greet me. From then, he kept coming from time to time to greet me or sent written greeting notes which I used to appreciate. Soon, I observed Kuliya had self-discipline, selflessness, hardwork, respect for his seniors and willingness to take orders, whether private or official within the confines of the law.

I have two examples to give to buttress this claim. First, when Gen AB Dambazau (former Chief of Army Staff) was a Directing Staff (DS) at the National War College, he called me and asked me to talk to then Major Kuliya on a certain matter on his behalf because he did not know Kuliya then. I immediately called Major Kuliya in Nigeria High Commission, London, where he was serving as Deputy Defence Adviser. After telling him the message from Gen Dambazau, I also chipped in my own comment on the message. His reply was equally immediate and patently reflected his decorum and sense of responsibility. That singular act made me and Gen AB Dambazau to be very proud of him until his death. To show how responsible and grateful he was, he thanked and reminded me for advising him on how to be more circumspect in carrying out his duties as an intelligence officer.

Secondly, when Gen Owoye Andrew Azazi was the DMI, an unfortunate incident involving Abdurrahman occurred. I was then Col Admin at HQ NAIC. One afternoon, Gen Azazi called me and instructed me to call, then, Major Kuliya, who was then, the OC NDA Intelligence Detachment to see him in Abuja. I did as I was instructed. About an hour later, Kuliya called me to find out why Gen Azazi wanted to see him. In all honesty, I did not know anything behind the reason for that call. However, two days after, Major Kuliya was detained at HQ NAIC Security Group facility. Gen Azazi told me that the reason for Kuliya’s detention was security-related.  I personally became worried because the career of a very intelligent, promising and hardworking officer like him was on the line.

When Major Kuliya was about a month in detention, my younger brother, Tijjani Sule Yakasai, who was married to Kuliya’s cousin Sa’a, phoned to tell me his in- law, Kuliya’s maternal uncle wanted to see me. I immediately knew it must be about Abdurrahman Kuliya’s detention. I took a pass and travelled to Kano. In Kano, I met late Alhaji Sani Daneji(Bappa). Alhaji Sani asked me to tell him about Major Kuliya and then, Lt Cdr Jameel Mukhtar, now a retired Naval Commodore. Since nobody knew why I travelled to Kano, I told Alhaji Sani what was “permissible”. He asked me for a way out, I told him prayer was the only way out. In the meantime, I “cultivated” three Non Commissioned Soldiers (NCO’s) to be monitoring Kuliya for me while in detention. One day, I asked one of the NCO’s to find out from him what particular assistance he wanted me to render. His reply was very encouraging, it was to tell me, to only pray for him and to also send the same message to his family if I could. I promptly passed the message to his uncle. From then on, I realised that because of his total reliance on God, it would only be a matter of time before he would be set free.

Indeed, after a few months, he was cleared of the allegation and set free. He came to see me and thanked me at home. I told him, because of his belief and total reliance on God, he should prepare for higher responsibilities ahead. His reaction was initially tepid but with time, he became even more God-fearing. He became more confident, more responsible and hardworking.

The takeaway from this narrative on late Gen Kuliya, is that military officers especially in NAIC should continue to carry out their duties with dedication, fear of God and total submission to Him, which is the only key to any mundane and external success.

It was not surprising when late Lt General Ibrahim Attahiru, late COAS appointed late Brig. Gen Abdurrahman Kuliya, Chief Of Military Intelligence because of his brilliance, hard work and dedication to duty. Unlike a few of his colleagues, Kuliya was not known for asinine remarks. In all his military career, he was given top assignments and in all, he came tops. I know almost all Army intelligence officers from the rank of Lt Col and above and I can say that, late Gen Kuliya was one of the best brains the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps has ever had. He was a highly cultured, disciplined and selfless military officer. A few days before the beginning of the last Ramadan fast, I had cause to send a message to him and the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Major Gen SA Adebayo over the security situation involving armed banditry and kidnappings in the North West and North Central. All of them replied. In fact, Kuliya called personally to thank me and briefly explained their plan of action to deal with these challenges. Without a doubt, this is the time when his services are most needed.

He was a calm, loyal, dedicated and God-fearing officer. We surely miss Gen Abdurrahman but Allah loves him more.

As we say our final goodbye, we ask God to comfort the families of all the deceased and grant late Brig. Gen Abdurrahman Kuliya Aljannat Firdausi.

Col. Ali Yakasai (rtd) lives at Nassarawa Quarters, Kano

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