A former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Tukur Buratai has been deployed as Nigeria’s ambassador-designate to the Republic of Benin.
This was contained in a statement posted on the official Facebook handle of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A former Chief of Defense Staff Abayomi Olonisakin was also deployed as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama handed letters of credence to the former service chiefs.
“Today, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama presented Letters of Credence to the Ambassador-Designate of Nigeria to the Republic of Cameroon, Amb. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin and the Ambassador-Designate of Nigeria to the Republic of Benin, Amb. Tukur Yusufu Buratai,” the post by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read.
The Senate had, in February, confirmed the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors following their nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Controversy had trailed the development, with a professor of law and former Executive Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chidi Odinkalu saying the appointments did not absolve the former service chiefs from criminal allegations levelled against them.
Odinkalu said ‘a few credible’ countries would not accredit them as ambassadors due to the allegations levelled against them.
He noted that, for example, a member-state of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) would likely not take the former service chiefs as ambassadors.
“In any OSCE country, for instance, any effort to deploy them as ambassadors would almost be guaranteed to end up in a raucous domestic and diplomatic mess and will be resisted seriously. In all likelihood, they will not pass muster with those countries,” he stated.
According to Odinkalu, the International Criminal Court prosecutor had already decided to initiate formal processes for an investigation into atrocities in Nigeria, including possible or alleged crimes by the Nigerian Army under the command of former COAS Buratai and former Chief of Defense Staff Abayomi Olonisakin.
In November 2020, the International Criminal Court confirmed that it received petitions over the killings of peaceful protesters during the #EndSARS protests by men of the Nigerian Army.
Buratai was particularly accused of ordering the killings of Shiites and young members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).