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ARE GENERAL BURATAI’S CHICKENS COMING TO ROOST?

By Teslim Oyetunji Military Chiefs the world over are known to be men of unimpeachable character and iron-clad discipline. Evocative example...


By Teslim Oyetunji

Military Chiefs the world over are known to be men of unimpeachable character and iron-clad discipline. Evocative examples of men of these caliber are; Eisenhower, Bernard Montgomery, General Patereaus and Colin Powell amongst others.

There are those who have suggested that the name of the Former Chief of Staff (2015-2021) Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai be included in this class of men, a laughable proposition in the wake of the recent revelations that have come to light about his conduct as the Chief of Army Staff between 2015 to 2021.

To many, General Tukur Y. Buratai was the over-rated Army General elevated to the position of Chief of Army Staff by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2015.

At the time, his appointment was greeted with great fanfare and excitement, but by the time of his exit in 2021, his record in office had turned out to be an indictment on the abysmal performance of the Nigerian Army which could not implement a coherent strategy to defeat the insurgency that had plagued the country since 2011.

Among reasons cited for the worsening insecurity at that time were the low morale and fighting spirit of troops in the frontlines due to poor welfare and diversion of billions of funds meant for procurement of arms to fight insurgency, kidnappings and banditry around the country.

General Buratai was the director for procurement of arms between 2012 to 2015.

In March 2021, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno had revealed that funds running into billions of naira meant for the procurement of arms under the past service chiefs were unaccounted for. Just recently, in what seem to be a major breakthrough yet in the corruption allegation investigation against the former Army Boss, Independent Corrupt

Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) recovered N1.85 billion from a house and office said to be belonging to former Chief of Army Staff, in Abuja along with bulletproof cars, BMW, G-Wagon worth N450m." It was gathered that part of the money recovered, including the sum of N1 Billion-naira cash was part of the missing funds ear-marked for the purchase of arms.

Meanwhile Sahara Reporters and other credible news sources had since 2016 reported how the former Chief had acquired expensive properties in Dubai running into millions of dollars.

He and his two wives were said to have splurged  the sum of 1,498,534.00 AED (N120 million/$419,000) for the first property, Project TFG Marina Hotel Unit 2711 in 2013, many others followed too numerous to mention.

Curiously, Mr. Buratai is now the serving ambassador of Nigeria to Benin, a position that affords him diplomatic immunity of some sort. It is believed by some that Mr. Buratai’s preference for the appointment of ambassadorship was not unconnected with the immunity status attached to the office, perhaps to stave off anti-corruption and international human rights agencies that may want to come after him after retirement. 

His appalling human right record as a serving chief and the role he played in ordering the unprovoked massacre of the protesters of IMN members in Zaria 2015 has also been cited as one of the potential reasons why he might be seeking diplomatic immunity status as an ambassador.

Nigeria has ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC which is the international court with the jurisdiction to try crime against humanity, thus making the Nigerian State and non-State actors subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

Lately, the former COAS has also been seen shamelessly courting politicians. He was one of those allegedly gifted 100Million naira APC Presidential nomination ticket. He has been sighted serving as party agent to Mr. Rotimi Amechi, the former transportation minister at the APC presidential primaries convention, a move many saw as the height of desperation. Perhaps, the calculation may have been that had Amechi won, he could be appointed as the new National Security Adviser.

The practice of high-ranking senior Army Officers taking to politics immediately after retirement to find some relevance and immunity from prosecution and investigation abounds in this country. Politics in Nigeria is heavily skewed to favour the very rich. With a huge stash of cash available for spending; credentials can be rewritten, reputation polished and past atrocities quickly forgotten but the ignominious past of the Former COAS is one that should reverberate in the minds of Nigerians and any new incoming administration for years to come.

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