By Dirisu Yakubu, Abuja
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, Monday, rose in defense of Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Benin and former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai (retd) over his role in the federal government’s move to extradite Yoruba separatist campaigner, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.
This is as the rights group chided those he accused of orchestrating a campaign of hate against General Buratai, whom it stressed, is merely doing his job as an envoy of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA decried what it called series of media onslaught against Buratai “for allegedly facilitating the arrest and pushing for the extradition of Mr. Igboho.”
Onwubiko reminded those bent on dragging the good name of the former Army Chief in the mud that diplomatic missions “provide public services for their nationals, including acting as a notary public, providing electoral registration, issuing passports and papers for military conscription, referring injured or sick nationals to local physicians and lawyers, and ensuring non-discriminatory treatment for those charged with or imprisoned for crimes.”
While noting that Buratai had no other option, HURIWA added that an Ambassador or High Commissioner as the case may be “is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment.”
The statement continued: “Ambassadors have a wide range of responsibilities dealing with foreign relations. Each task is carried out in a diplomatic manner that is made to meet the needs of the ambassador’s home country while keeping a positive relationship with that country. Because of their unique relationship with the host nation, ambassadors are able to help in the development of the foreign policy with that nation. All of these actions are meant to protect their home country’s interests within the host nation.
The rights group however called on the federal government to leave Igboho alone even as he flayed the killing of his associates a few weeks ago when his house was invaded by security agents.
“We do not understand what anyone wants General Buratai to have done when someone who has been declared wanted by the government he is serving crosses into the jurisdiction he is serving. We, therefore, call on those orchestrating these campaigns of calumny against Lieutenant General Buratai (retd) to stop distracting him and allow him perform his diplomatic duties as designated.
“General Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff between July 2015 and January 2021, was deployed as Nigeria’s envoy in the Benin Republic in June 2021 to expand the frontiers of Nigeria-Benin Republic and to advance the interest of Nigeria in his host country,” the statement further read.