AMBASSADORIAL: Retired Service Chiefs Still Awaiting Postings Two Months After - News at its peak

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AMBASSADORIAL: Retired Service Chiefs Still Awaiting Postings Two Months After

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Almost two months after the confirmation of the four immediate past Service Chiefs as non-career ambassadors, there is an uneasy calm on the delay of their postings as envoy-designates to Nigerian Missions abroad.



President Muhammadu Buhari had, on February 4, forwarded the names of the four military chiefs who served his administration for five years and six months to the Senate for confirmation as envoys, less than one week after their resignation from service.

The Senate subsequently screened and confirmed the Service Chiefs on February 23, but they are yet to get their posting from the president and this has generated ripples in some quarters.

The former Service Chiefs are the former Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin; former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; former Chief of Air Staff, Ibok Ibas; and former Chief of Naval Staff, Abubakar Sadique.

Sources conversant with the development told New Telegraph that aside from the perennial challenge of logistics and paucity of funds that still kept some of the already screened, posted, and inducted 109 ambassadorial-designates in the country, the former Service Chiefs’ posting is being meticulously handled to avoid any diplomatic ‘embarrassment’.

It was also learnt that the ongoing probe by the House of Representatives on the $1billion Excess Crude Account funds meant for arms procurement for the military is also a subject of consideration in where and when to post the former military chiefs.

Recall that the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) had alleged that $1 billion funds meant to purchase arms to tackle insurgency during the ex- Service Chiefs’ tenure got missing. However, in a later statement by his office, the NSA recanted his earlier allegations, saying he was quoted out of context.

Describing the situation as becoming dicey, the source, who pleaded for anonymity, said President Buhari, upon his return from medical check-up in United Kingdom, is expected to weigh in on some of the recommendations to him on his former Service Chiefs, especially whether they should be posted to any of the Western countries, Asian countries or as a statutory representative of the country in any of the United Nations arms.

He said, “Ordinarily, the diplomatic process of posting an ambassadordesignate is cumbersome. Do you know that many of the already posted and inducted ambassador-designates are still in the country because of diplomatic logistics with the host countries and some other issues?” The source said: “When someone is to be posted out as an ambassador, the country he or she is to be posted to will be communicated to him.

Then, the country where he is to resume will be notified in writing. The country will then accept or reject him. If he is accepted, a document known as ‘Agreement’ will be forwarded to Nigeria. Then, the ambassador will be given a letter of credence, which will be presented to the President of that foreign country.

“The fear around the former Service Chiefs is that they may be rejected by some countries based on some allegation against them while they are serving. Also, this recent probe by the House of Representatives is another sour point for their clearance because anything associated with corruption is frowned at by some countries, especially those in the West.”

While stating that Nigeria would benefit from the experience of the former chiefs if posted to countries in the arms industry, he said it is also possible that petitions and protest may follow the service chiefs by some Diaspora Nigerians when they are eventually posted.

While feigning ignorance of possible reshuffle of the initially posted ambassadors to accommodate the former military chiefs, he said the process is not one of quick fixes as there are parties involved. The appointment of the Service Chiefs had been trailed by condemnations, with many Nigerians suggesting that the President’s decision was aimed at shielding the former military officials from possible prosecution, especially by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The allegations against the former military chiefs include the 2015 massacre of more than 350 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), a Shiites sect, violent attacks on members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), last October’s shooting and of innocent Nigerians who took part in the #EndSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, and the extrajudicial killings in Oyigbo, an Igbo settlement in Rivers State,among others.

But explaining grounds by which an ambassador-designate can be rejected, a former Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, said the national interest of a receiving state is what is generally considered in accepting or not accepting an ambassadorial nominee.

“Look at the case of the former Service Chiefs that have been appointed as ambassadors, there have been accusing fingers pointed at them as engaging in malpractices and all those things. For any country that is preaching and fighting against corruption, you are now posting somebody that has been publicly accused of sponsoring sharp and corrupt practices as an ambassador.”

Akinterinwa, who is the President/Director-General of the Bolytag Centre for International Diplomacy and Strategic Studies (BOCIDASS), noted further that: “Under normal circumstance, if the Service Chiefs have been accused of sharp corrupt practices, war crimes and crime against humanity, now the ICC is supposed to declare them wanted and the Buhari-led administration thinks to find a way of protecting them, he re-appoints them as ambassadors.

“Those who are seeking to prosecute them, they work in solidarity. The country you want to send them to may not accept and they will just simply say that you should find another candidate. And the principle of sovereign equality says you cannot query anyone for not accepting your candidate. “So, you have a right to accredit people and send them out as a country. But where you are also sending them to, the right exists to accept or reject and they do not owe you any explanation because the sending and receiving states are both sovereign states.”

On his part, the Permanent Representatives of the CCDI to the United Nations, Mr. Olufemi Aduwo, said allegations against the ex-service chiefs over their antecedents in office can’t be a basis for their rejection as ambassadors.

Speaking with New Telegraph, Aduwo, who is the Executive Director of Rights Monitoring Group (RMG), said, “The major allegation anyone can level against them has been recently diffused by the United States government, which is how the military handled the October 20 Lekki Toll Gate issue.

“When it comes to the issue of posting of envoys in the diplomatic circle, complaints and agitation does not really matter; what counts is the interest of the nation and the impact the person coming will make. I don’t think they will have problem anywhere they post them. “I think the delay in the postings of the former Service Chiefs has to do with the Nigerian factor.

I believe Mr. President will post them to where he wants them to function. I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also in cash crunch and it is a major issue. We currently have many countries without ambassadors and that is not good for our image,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee investigating procurement of arms by the nation’s security forces may summon the former Service Chiefs to brief it on the purchases made.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, while appearing before the probe committee, was quoted to have told the Hon. Olaide Akinremi-led committee that: “You may wish to recall that I took over the mantle of leadership barely two months ago. “The period from which you wanted this report, having been summarised in the executive summary, explain whatever details you will require; issues of procurement that you so demand to know were done by specific individuals. “I will rather you call these individuals to come and explain to you very specific issues. The general issue has been contained in the report and the summary. It goes to speak about the entire report and it explains it.”

 

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