In an interview with the entertainment editor of Vanguard Newspapers, Ogbonna Amadi, Hadiza Azzay opened up on all the years she suffered abuse at the hands of her husband, musician, Zaaki Azzay. See it below...
Is it true you have packed out of your matrimonial home? Yes. It is very true. I left home on the 17th of April because of the beatings I constantly received from my husband. That was the eight time so far.
You left home or he kicked you out? Yes. I left on my own accord, he never sent me packing. The very day he beat me up, I was asleep in my Children’s room (because two months back, we’d stopped sleeping together). I felt safer there because he seldom touches me when the children are around.
A lot more after the cut...
Hadiza and her kids
At about 1:30 am on the fateful day, he came back home and called the land line for some one to come open the gate for him. The second time the phone rang, I picked up. When I answered, he shouted that I should wake the children up to come open the gate for him. I woke the second born, Kuma to open the gate. When he came in, I was asleep on a mattress on the floor of the room and he started kicking me and shouting that I should have been the one to come and open the gate.
Meanwhile, I’d switched off my phone because anytime he comes back and finds new pictures or numbers on my phone, he’d either delete all of them or smash it and get me a new one. After kicking me to his satisfaction, he went to his room. Usually when he beats me up this way, I would run away. I ran away twice last year to my fathers house with my children but he came with his uncle’s to beg. Sometime ago when I got pregnant, he asked me to abort the baby because he was not ready for more children.
How many children do you have? Three and they are 7, 6 and 4 years old respectively. When we woke up in the morning, he gave the maid money to cook for the family because that was his normal routine. The gas finished while they were still cooking, so the girl came to me and I referred her back to Zaaki.
I was dressing up my children that morning, when he sent my son to come call me. My son’s exact words were ‘’Mummy, daddy is calling you but don’t go’’. I knew deep down that he was saying the truth because if Zaaki should lock me up in his room, I’m as good as dead. He would beat me non stop and sometimes raise the volume of the TV or start the generator to douse my cry for help.
When I didn’t go, he came to the room and asked me why I did not harken to his call. I did not respond. He saw me dressing up the children and thought I would take them away to my father’s place the same way I did last year. He took the children away that morning and I quickly reasoned that his next step would be to come back and beat me. So I took a few clothes and ran away.
Someone introduced to ‘’Project Alert’’ and I went to the shelter. On the 4th of June, My father told me Zaaki informed him that he is bringing back my luggages. I decided to hire a taxi to go pick my things myself. Before then, close neighbours had called regularly to say they see my children trekking to and from school because Zaaki does not take them in his car.
On my way to the house on that very day, I saw them trekking home with the maid. When I stopped they happily jumped into the car. The maid who was with them started shouting and calling me ‘’Thief’’ alerting passers by. She tore the dress I wore. I manged to escape with two of the kids leaving my daughter behind. Zaaki went to threaten the proprietress of the school saying we connived to kidnap his children.
He aslo went to our family doctor to try get a report that his maid suffered injuries in hand but the doctor refused saying he is a Christian and would not be a party to a break up a marriage. Later, he gave me a particular medical report because he was convinced Zaaki would go the extreme one day. Even the hospital where I gave birth to my last born, Zaaki has refused to pay them.
What was his excuse? His excuse was that while other women were giving birth to boys, I was giving birth to women. He always says people tell him my children look like my siblings and that he would not be shocked to find out that it was my brother that impregnated me. Whenever he starts beating me, it seems as if there is a spirit inside him.
Do you love Him? If I didn’t love Zaaki, I wouldn’t have married him. We met when I was in school and worked part time as secretary in my father firm when I’m on holidays. My dad was an active journalist before he went into politics. Zaaki used to patronize him and with time, we started talking on the phone. One day he told me he loved and wanted me as his wife. Zaaki’s father gave my father his first employment. So it was like my father was returning a favour by giving me out in marriage to Zaaki.
What happened to the children on that fateful day? Two them had entered the vehicle before the lady started shouting and calling me a thief. But the child, my daughter was still standing outside. I left with the two that were already in the car.
How did the school authorities get to hear about it, did it happen in the school premises? No. It didn’t happen inside the school but we were not very far from the school premises. Some of the teachers came out and identified me as the kids mother but she still kept on calling me a thief.
Have you reported this matter to his family? He is not in good terms with his mother, elder sister and almost all members of his family except one of his brothers who he sees once in a blue moon.
Did you try to locate his mother about this issue? I have no idea where to look for her because she was in Makurdi then relocated to Abuja. She used to call and ask after everybody’s well being but anytime Zaaki goes through my phone and see her number, he would delete it immediately.
But you sometimes went out together… Yes we did. But I stopped going out with him because anytime we go out and any man approaches me or even says hi, we would leave the place in a hurry or he would start asking me questions about the man. He feels so insecure. The main reason why I am addressing this issue through the press is because I am scared for my life and the life of people helping me.
He went to make false allegations against me to the police. I want the Inspector General to look into this matter squarely. When I went to see the police, the police officer in charge of the case threatened to detain me if I failed to produce the children. My lawyer had to sign an undertaken that we’d bring the children the next day.
When Zaaki reported me to his uncle, he lied that he bought me a jeep. People who know me are aware that I trek to school most of the time. Zaaki would sometimes disguise to come and spy on me in school or send some of his boys. He has threatened to deal with me on several occasions.
What are you studying in school? I’m a student of history and international relations. I’m in my final year. Right now, he has seized all my school documents. I really don’t know what Zaaki wants from me, I’m sure members of my family have not offended him in any way. If anything should happen to me in the nearest future, I have said Zaki should be held responsible.
What if Zaaki comes back to apologize? He has begged on several occasions in the past but this time I would never go back to go back to him. Right now, I am fighting for my right and that of my children. I’m learned and I am aware of other relating issues.
You said he asked you to abort on several occasions. Yes he did. You can confirmed from a doctor friend of his, Dr Albert. I cannot remember the name of the hospital but I have the doctor’s phone number. The doctor insisted that he does not do abortions and instead gave me ante-natal drugs saying ‘pregnancy is a thing of joy’.
Zaaki came home that night while I was asleep and started kicking me insisting that I abort the baby. He almost forced folic acid down my throat and was hitting my stomach in the process. So I begged and asked him to give me the drugs to swallow myself then ran out of the house in just a boxer and T-shirt.
He pursued and forced me into his car saying he would take me back to my fathers house. Instead he dropped me off at a lonely spot. I know no one in Lagos because Zaaki brought me here after we met in school. But at about 1 am, he retuned to pick me up from the spot he dropped me. If you want to confirm these things , go to Gbagada and ask. Often he has beaten me several times on the streets.
Did you ever report this matter to anybody? Yes. I reported him to my Pastor, Taiwo Odukoya and whenever we go to see him, Zaaki would say I follow men up and down. I am fighting for my life and that of my daughter that is still with him.
Have you tried to talk one on one with him? Yes. But every time we try, he says bad people are advising me. Whenever I gave birth, he stopped people from visiting me. He never organised naming or birthday ceremonies for my children. When I left last year in April, on my sons birthday which is May 17, he gathered a few people in the name of a celebration just to fulfill all righteousness. Zaaki has no house of his own.
All we’ve been doing is move from one rented apartment to the other. He would lie to the media that we travelled to the United States of America. I have only been to Cotonou in my entire life. Zaaki has only been to South Africa and that was courtesy GLO with ‘’Lagbaja’’ and ‘’Daddy Showkey’’. He’s always been denied visa to America yet would lie to the media about a non existing American trip.
Did you say he was once married? Yes he was married but I would rather not mention the lady’s name for security reasons. He married her in Lagos at the Ikoyi marriage registry. And married me at Ado-Odo registry in Ogun State. I came from a Muslim home but got converted to Christianity because of Zaaki.
Right now, I’m the only Christian in my family. I went boldly to my parents and made it clear that I don’t want my children to be divided between two religions. My father accepted it as long as I was not pagan and advised me to face the religion squarely.
She abducted my kids and abandoned her matrimonial home - Zaaki
“For now I do not want to run fowl of whatever the court ethics are. From my understanding of issues, once a matter is in court every party strives as much as possible to refrain from making comments on such matters or anything relating to it.
“I’m surprised that Project Alert or whatever they call themselves and the person who ran away from her matrimonial home months back and who came back with hefty looking thugs in a black unregistered car: beat up and injured my cousin on her way back from picking the kids from school and forcefully adopted my children; then went to court after doing that and now run to the press and post so many statements to tarnish my image on the internet.
“I’m not ready to give them the opportunity for cheap publicity which is exactly what they are looking for. A good lawyer should fight his case in court and not on the pages of newspapers. I am happy with some of the responses they are getting on the internet.”