By Kolawole Anthony
The latest confirmation of Lt. General Tukur Buratai (rtd) as a non-career ambassador to the Benin Republic has sent great shivers down the spines of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and their splinter groups in the South-Eastern part of the country.
Against IPOB’s belief, Buratai has proven himself qualified with unique skills. His vast wealth of experience as a war veteran, peacekeeper, administrator with efficiency in maintaining order and stability in conflict-ridden areas around the country, along with his untainted outstanding records set him apart in the eye of The National Parliament Screening and confirmation, Security Agency’s check on personalities, and the Final Senate screening.
As part of the process before his confirmation, the members of the public were invited to submit petitions which would be either considered on the provision of worthy evidence or discarded when considered substantial. If culpable of the evidence, the particular nominee would eventually be disqualified.
All these formalities were satisfied, yet IPOB and its allies kept quiet. They neither wrote any petition against Buratai nor showed their grievances in writing before his appointment, but now want to tarnish the image of the former Army Chief as one who supervised genocide in Nigeria is unfortunate and smacks of mischief.
The efforts made by malcontent members of the proscribed sect to discredit Buratai is a shameless act and goes against every principle of decency. It shows that the group is clueless and they are only out there to cause havoc and disorder under the disguise of having the interests of the Igbo people at heart.
In the third paragraph of their letter, reference was made to the summary and links of what they termed “grave human rights violations and other conduct-atrocities” of T.Y Buratai when he served as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff all of which are unverified accounts of allegations tabled against the ambassador. It is witless of them to have used such baseless links and unverified summaries of what they claim are Buratai’s sins as support to their false claims.
The efforts and struggles of the Nigerian Army should not be demeaned and denigrated by disgruntled members of this group. Most of their efforts have been tailored towards scandalizing several members of the Buhari-led administration including the president himself all in the name of fighting for a just cause.
All movement of calumny by this group against the ambassador will not be accepted. Their futile cries for justice against Buratai is condemnable.
The group is quick to forget that this same man who they have so shamelessly slandered for the violation of several human rights instituted an office in the Nigerian Army dedicated to the protection of human rights by the soldiers.
Most of their claims in the letter were unsubstantial and controversial in all regards. All those who signed such an appalling letter must be brought to book to serve as a deterrent to individuals who would like to try such in the future. Everyone has his or her right to express opinions, but accusing an individual without substantial proof is a hatchet job.
The IPOB has yet again proven itself to be an organization full of dishonesty, unclear practices and violence. It is this very group that accused the ambassador of violating human rights that were also responsible for several attacks on innocent citizens and government properties earlier this year. It is thus ridiculous to see such an organization accuse someone of crimes they are clearly guilty of.
The Report of April 27 concerning the spate of attacks on security forces in the southeastern part of Nigeria by the so-called harmless peaceful protesters as claimed by IPOB, had it that, there was a gun exchange by IPOB with the police before they were subdued by the intervention of troops, which later resulted in the killing of five security officers including two soldiers.
“Unidentified men attacked the police station in the southern part of Okigwe town,” Imo State police spokesman Orlando Ikokwu confirmed to AFP that, “Five policemen were killed while another is missing,” he said. Residents of Okigwe, however, claimed to have seen the bodies of six slain policemen.
From evidence and eyewitnesses, authorities attributed this spiteful attack to the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist group campaigning for Biafran independence.
The ambassador was also blamed for the EndSars protest which saw the shooting of some of the protesters at Lekki toll gate sometime in October last year. Such an accusation is baseless. It is an effort by IPOB to corner the purpose of the protest into their selfish gain and therefore uses it as a weapon to attack the Nigerian military and haul them in a negative light.
The actions of the IPOB are a clear example of rewarding good and selfless service with chagrin and ignominy. Buratai’s excellent career record is enough evidence to prove to the world that this was a man who served his country to the best of his abilities. During his tenure, he was at the forefront of protecting human rights that he instituted a human rights desk to ensure that his men comply with set rules of engagement to protect the human rights of individuals.
This same man carried out a campaign to improve civil-military relations between the Nigerian Army and host communities which saw to the provision of basic and social amenities in such communities some of which include a massive water project in Abakpa and the provision of farming implements to farmers in such communities. This campaign also saw the provision of free medical outreaches in several communities around the country. All these helped to improve the overall living standards of people in such communities and helped alleviate poverty to a great extent in such communities.
It is therefore obvious that their vile agitation for freedom and their spurious attack on the personality of Ambassador Buratai is borne out of the fear of blocking their core source of weaponry and ammunition supplies, which have been through borders that stood as a channel of support from their members in other countries.
Being befuddled and knowing how he had curbed their nefarious activities on many occasions in the past, the Indigenous People of Biafra had foreseen greater destruction lying ahead for them. Therefore, they resolved to use evil strategies, and different means to pull the Nigerian Ambassador to the Benin Republic, Buratai, out of that sensitive position.
He has earned great recognition and should be inducted into the country’s HALL OF FAME. All these, we believe he would get someday.
Kolawole, PhD, wrote this piece from Keffi.