n a surprise move, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday has asked the Senate to screen and approve the immediate past Service Chiefs to the Senate as non-career Ambassadors-Designate.
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seeing the move in a strange and different perspective, saying the ambassadorial appointments are a “decoy to shield the immediate past service chiefs from investigation over alleged killing of innocent Nigerians and crimes against humanity under their inglorious watch.”
But others sources are waiting to see if the Upper House of the National Assembly will endorse men it considered failures as security chiefs and asked to be sacked. The new move has been viewed by observers as a ‘well done’ gift to the top soldiers, whose retention for so long amidst growing insecurity, led to a cacophony of calls, from many stakeholders, including the House of Representatives, for their sack.
In a letter to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, President Buhari said: “In accordance with section 171 (1), (2) (c) & 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 (5) names of nominees as Non-Career Ambassadors-Designate.”
The President urged expeditious consideration for the former Chiefs of Defence Staff General Abayomi G. Olonisakin (rtd); Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Y. Buratai (rtd); Navy Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd); Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd); and Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (rtd).
The PDP is, however, charging 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 outrightly rejecting the demand by President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm them as ambassadors.”
It adds in a statement: “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 PDP asserts that appointing the former service chiefs as ambassadors would confer diplomatic immunity on them and provide them a route for escape.
“The party 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 our country, 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 extra-judicial 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 accused service chiefs must not be allowed to use diplomatic immunity to escape investigation and possible prosecution for the killing of unarmed EndSARS protester at Lekki Toll gate and other parts of the country as well as the hundreds of civilians reportedly killed by soldiers in the Zaria massacre.
“This is in addition to series of reported military invasions and mass shooting in communities in Borno, Yobe, Rivers, Abia, Anambra among other states across the six geo-political zones of our country, where soldiers reportedly razed communities and massacred unarmed civilians under the command of the ex-service chiefs.
“Our party therefore calls on Nigerians, across board, to unite in rejecting these ambassadorial nominations for the accused former commanders and demand that President Buhari should immediately withdraw their nominations from the Senate.
“The least that is expected of President Buhari is to direct the former service chiefs to answer for the alleged crimes.”