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Buhari taps Olonisakin, Buratai, ex-military chiefs as diplomats

A few days after their exit from the military, President Muhammadu Buhari has tapped the immediate past Service Chiefs for diplomatic jobs. The President also extended the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, by three months. Adamu’s service in the Force expired on February 1, 2021. Already, Buhari has forwarded the names of the immediate past Service Chiefs to the Senate for confirmation as non-career Ambassadors-Designate.

The nominees are: Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin (rtd), Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai (rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd), and AVM Mohammed Usman (rtd). Olonisakin, Buratai, Ibas and Abubakar were the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of Air Staff (CAS) respectively. AVM Usman (rtd) was the immediate past Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI).

The Service Chiefs were reported to have jointly resigned their appointments and replaced by the incumbents in their various positions. The former Service Chiefs were replaced by: Chief of Defence Staff, Maj- Gen. Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Maj-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao and Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo. The President urged the Senate to give expeditious consideration to the nominations. President’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, confirmed that Buhari had communicated this development in a letter to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan.

Buhari, in a letter to the Senate President, said: “In accordance with Section 171 (1), (2) (c) and sub-section (4) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I have the honour to forward for confirmation by the Senate, the under-listed five names of nominees as Non-Career Ambassadors-Designate.” The extension of the IGP’s tenure was announced by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyadi, while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa.

According to the minister, the extension was necessary so as to give room for the proper selection of a successor. There were speculations on Tuesday that Mr. Ibrahim Zana, an Assistant Inspector General (AIG), had been picked as Acting Inspector General of Police. But the minister said: “Mr. President has decided that the present IGP, Mohammed Adamu, will continue to serve as the IG for the next three months, to allow for a robust and efficient process of appointing a new IG. “This is not unconnected to the desire of Mr. President to, not only have a smooth handover, but to also ensure that the right officer is appointed into that position.

“Mr President is extending by three months to allow him get into the process of allowing a new one.” Asked whether the announcement has not created a lacuna in the succession process, Dingyadi said: “There’s no lacuna. Mr. President can decide to extend his tenure for three months.” On where the initial report of the IG’s retirement came from, the minister said: “It was one of those social media stories that one cannot control.”

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that President Buhari’s nomination of immediate past service chiefs for ambassadorial appointments was plot to shield them from investigation over alleged killing of innocent Nigerians and crimes against humanity under their inglorious watch. PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, called on the Senate to eschew all partisan considerations and stand on the side of the people, particularly the victims of atrocious regime of the ex-service chiefs by rejecting the demand by President Buhari to confirm them as ambassadors.

“It is indeed sacrilegious and a horrible assault on the sensibility of Nigerians that the APC government is seeking to use ambassadorial appointments as desperate measure to secure diplomatic immunity for the former commanders and protect them from investigation, arrest and possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the atrocities committed against innocent Nigerians under their command,” the party stated. PDP noted that appointing the former Service Chiefs as ambassadors would confer diplomatic immunity on them and provide them a route for escape.

It further stated that taking such actions at a time the ICC has declared its readiness to commence full investigation on their alleged involvement in the crime against humanity in Nigeria, appears to further validate the allegations against them.

“Moreover, the frenzy by officials of the Buhari presidency in mounting pressure on the Senate to confirm such abominable ambassadorial nominations has further raised public apprehensions of a desperate attempt to cover the culpability of some other individuals connected to the APC administration.

“It is shocking that instead of allowing the former Service Chiefs to answer for the alleged crime against humanity under their command, including reported cases of extrajudicial execution, killing of unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, rape, illegal arrest as well as detention and torture of innocent Nigerians, the APC administration is rather plotting their escape. “The least that is expected of President Buhari is to direct the former Service Chiefs to answer for the alleged crimes,” PDP stated.

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