Hadiza Yadoo Zaaki Azzay has been married for all of eight years, but according to the 29-year old mother of three children (Zara, Didoo and Mimi) there has never been peace in her matrimonial home.
The estranged wife of the music star, Zaaki Azzay, in an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, August 16, 2012, did actually spill the beans on the tension in their household, the last straws that broke the camel’s back and much more reasons she is walking out on her marriage.
Can you please tell us about you?
My names are Hadiza Zaaki Azzay. I’m 29-year old. I’m in my final year in Lagos State University reading History and International Relations. I married on January 14, 2004. That was my traditional wedding. My court wedding was July 30, in Ado Odo, Ota, Ogun State.
Hadiza is from a humble background. My dad, Alhaji Ahmed IBN Anyamikegh is a politician. I’m Tiv by tribe, born into a muslim family. I was a muslim before I got married. That was how I became a Christian. I am the only Christian in a family of nine.
How was your childhood?
It was fun in the sense that my dad was a journalist before he joined politics.
What’s your dad’s political antecedents?
My dad was a special adviser under late Governor Dabo Lere. He contested for governorship in 1992 under the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC). He stepped down for Dabo Lere. He was later appointed special adviser on political affairs.
He was once the Counsel General of the 19 northern states. He was also an adviser, political affairs under former Govenror Akume of Benue State. That’s Senator George Akume.
You said you are nine in the house?
Yes. I’m from a muslim background which permits as much as four wives and nine children. My mom has four, my stepmother another four, the other wife has one while there was none for my father’s other wife.
Why are you still in the university at 29?
I married immediately after my secondary school. I was born in 1982. I was supposed to go to university before I met Zaaki. I actually got admission into Benue State University. I met him during Chogom or COJA in 2003.
We got married two to three months after and after marriage I tried admission but I was heavily pregnant. I later got admission in 2007/2008. Now I’m in my final year.
How many children do you have for Zaaki Azzay?
I have three children. My first child is Zara, seven. Didoo is six and the last Mimi is four now. We have two girls and a boy. The second is a boy.
At what point did you begin to notice a crack in your marriage?
I won’t lie, I noticed this attitude before we got married. I thought he would change, maybe it was this boy, girl thing. I can remember he would ask me to abort my pregnancy. He would beat me and send me packing.
I used to tell my parents what had been happening. This is the 8th time I’m running away from home. I decided to take the bull by the horn this time. I said I won’t run back to my parents because if I’m dead tomorrow, that would be the end of the story.
Look at the Arowolo murder case. We have so many cases of abuse of women, so I said I can’t stand this any longer. That is why I’m speaking out now. The other time I ran, he even didn’t come to beg, the second time I ran out of the house with my children. He threatened to deal with anybody I stayed with even his close friends.
He has been harassing them not to accommodate me because I don’t have anybody in Lagos. I have taken this issue to our pastor, Taiwo Odukoya of Fountain of Life.
What did he do?
He invited us on many occasions not just at his office but even at his house.
When last were you there?
That should be around April 21, 2012, few days after I left his house.
When did Zaaki kick you out of his house?
I left the house on April 17, 2012. He didn’t chase me out of the house.
Can you please tell us what actually happened that fateful day?
He went for a show and came back around 1.30am or thereafter. Two months before then, we had not been sleeping in the same room because of this beating issue. Thank God I used to tell our family doctor about these things. I have my medical report.
I was sleeping when he came back. So, I woke one of his relatives to open the gate for him. He called my phone again when he entered and was shouting ‘why didn’t you open the gate for me?’
He came to where I was lying down and started kicking me. He said he was coming back for me again and he did. That very morning, he gave his sisters money to cook, they came with the money to show me, and I told them to go to the market.
When they came, they said the gas had finished. I told them to go and tell their uncle too. When they informed him, he asked my son to call me. I know if I went to that room he would beat me. He had once threatened me with a cutlass which he said he would use on me one day and tell the world he caught me with a man.
I told my father and sisters about it in 2008. The other time he tried to strangle me, one of his band men, Chichi was there. It was based on his past antecedents that I packed my things that very day knowing that if he ever returned home, I would be attacked.
Why was he constantly beating you, was it on account of infidelity?
The infidelity issue is always a frame up. The last time I ran away, he told my father he was informed I was going to America. He used to call people’s names but now he just concluded I brought thugs to beat up his cousin in the house. The cousin, who is even the girlfriend. He tied bandages on his hand and that of his girlfriend’s and snapped pictures he gave the commissioner of police. We faced the panel on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.
Since then more than 15 people have been calling me with different numbers threatening my life.
What did the police say?
They didn’t know what to say except that Zaaki petitioned me. They said they can’t handle this. I went there with my lawyer, Brrister Benjamin Odeh, Legal Consultant to Project Alert on Violence Against Women.
There in the police station, their boss asked me the whereabouts of the children. I think he is the OC, one Hausa man, named Usman Aminu or something. He was so mean, he said I must bring the children, that they have been trailing me.
I think the police should be fair in this matter. All of us are celebrities. Nobody is above the law. There should be thorough investigation.
Were you granted bail or what?
They detained me for hours and made my lawyer sign an undertaking under duress that I would produce the children before I was released. The next day, my lawyer called to tell them we were not going to them again. He also called Zaaki’s lawyer.
Meanwhile, the NBA chairman, Taiwo, has stepped into the case because he saw that I was oppressed. Zaaki is 49 and I am 29. He’s 19 years older than me.
What was the attraction to Zaaki back then?
(She pauses) it was through the media I knew Zaaki as a music star. But I later learnt he is the opposite of what we all thought he is. He sings about women but he doesn’t have respect for them. He talks down on every woman. He hardly allowed me to talk to people at events. When we get home, he lectures me, telling me he is the star in the house.
So, what do you want right now?
I need my daughter that is with him. If he claimed I came with thugs, he’s a big liar because if I did, I would have even dealt with him.
You didn’t come with thugs?
I swear before God and man.
How many children are you with at the moment?
I’m with the last two. My daughter is not safe with him because I don’t trust Zaaki. The court has written him, he has not responded. Project Alert wrote him, he also snubbed them.
So you want the custody of all your children?
On what grounds?
He is violent, he cannot take care of them. He travels a lot and won’t feed them well or take adequate care of them. He doesn’t buy clothes for them, the highest he gives is N5,000. He doesn’t even have a house of his own.
He prefers buying cars. It was not until a friend dashed these children N200,000 that they had the privilege of wearing new clothes.
Do you also want a divorce?
Yes. That is what I’m fighting for. That is why I’m in court. I want a divorce so I can be free. He would beat me and tell my children I was sleeping when I actually fainted.
Do you rule out reconciliation should God intervene?
God speaks in different ways, let Him come first. Even if all the presidents of the world tell me to go back to that house, I will not go. It was out of shame, he ran out of Gbagada before we moved to Obanikoro. I can give you the address so you can go and investigate.
We always ask this question. What did you do to make your marriage?
First, I respect our pastor, we took our case to him on several occasions, but when we got back home, he returned to his ways. At times even before we get back home, we started all over. Even Pastor (Mrs.) Anuli Ajagu had intervened in the matter. Several people, family members, friends and many others have lent their voices, to no avail.
But why is your dad not saying anything?
He has been asking me to come home but Zaaki is his good friend. I’m not going anywhere. I have changed my phone numbers. He can’t even, reach me. I’m fighting for my right. I know my dad very well.
Your relationship with Zaaki is highly regretted?
Yes. And it is over. The children are his, nobody is denying him his paternal right but it has to be done legally, in a just way. We are in a democracy. No woman would love to leave her matrimonial home but I can’t die in my marriage.
I’m tired of this. If I die who will take care of my children.
Is your mom alive?
Yes. She is totally against all of these. When she visited when I gave birth, Zaaki would search her bag when she’s going alleging she had stole his things. When he sees my brother he would say he wants to arrange boyfriends for me. He doesn’t even respect my dad. He has always wanted to kill me.
What are the things Zaaki Azzay has been saying about you that is not really true?
First, the issue of unfaithfulness. The allegation that I brought thugs to the house is a big lie. He said he caught me with four men on the bed in our house. These are the major ones. Again, he should stop harassing people and face his own problem. Maybe it’s a psychiatric problem.
He should be examined and counseled.
Why we’re dragging Zaaki Azzay to court
- Project Alert lawyer, Benjamin Odeh
ENCOMIUM Weekly also heard from Project Alert’s legal consultant, Barrister Benjamin Odeh, who explained what transpired between Hadiza Zaaki Azzay and the police.
The lawyer equally told ENCOMIUM Weekly the efforts the NGO that checkmates violence against women and young girls are making to give Zaaki’s wife justice. His words in an interview he granted us in company of his client that same Thursday, August 16, 2012.
What are you full names, sir?
I’m Barrister Benjamin odeh, a legal practitioner. I’m a legal consultant to Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a nongovernmental human right organization that protects the rights of women and young girls.
How did you get to know Mrs. Hadiza Zaaki Azzay?
She came to Project Alert after she ran away from the violence in her home.
When was that?
Sometime in April 2012. She came to make a formal complaint about her being brutalized and abused.
What did Project Alert do upon receiving her complaint?
it is our tradition, we called Zaaki on the numbers we were given but he ignored us. We had to take up the matter.
What happened at the police station?
We were told Zaaki reported her to them. We were later told that the matter had been taken to Command Headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos. From there, we were taken to the SIB department. The OC insisted that his men must follow her to where the children were of which we didn’t argue.
We felt it was a purely domestic matter. They insisted that if she didn’t do that, they would detain her. So, based on that I had to write a formal undertaking that I must return her the following day, I told them we are not coming back.
So, what’s your next step?
The next step is that we have written a formal petition to Zone 2, that is the AIG Zone 2. Our grouse is that our client did not receive a fair hearing. They are biased here. They have no jurisdiction. It is only the court that can handle the matter. We have also filed for the dissolution of the marriage.
What are her prayers?
Dissolution of the marriage. Custody of all the children, maintenance of herself and the children of the marriage, payment of their school fees while they are staying with her.
How is she asking for?
We are not asking for too much. I think in totality, we are asking for N300,000 per month. The case has not been assigned to a judge. It is before Ikeja High Court.
What are her chances?
She would succeed. I’m not the court. It’s a combination of factors.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, August 21, 2012