By Emmanuel Nduka
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, on Tuesday announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Sawyerr of Nigeria as Force Commander for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
The appointment means Sawyerr replaces Maj. Gen. Kefyalew Amde Tessema of Ethiopia.
Guterres said he remains grateful to the outgoing Tessema for his dedication, invaluable service and effective leadership during his appointment with UNISFA, UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria reported.
Abyei is an area of 10,546 km2 on the border between South Sudan and the Sudan that had been accorded “special administrative status” by the 2004 Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict (Abyei Protocol) in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA, that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War.
Sawyerr has a military career spanning more than 34 years with the Nigerian Army, including as the Director of Defence Information of Nigeria’s Defence Forces since 2021.
He had previously served as Commandant of the Nigerian Army Armour School in Bauchi State, North East Nigeria (2020-2021).
He also held the position of Brigade Commander twice in North East Nigeria, and was Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Battalion with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (2009-2010). He further served as the Director of Plans at the Nigerian Army Headquarters (2019-2020) and Deputy Director of Doctrine and Combat Development (2017-2018).
Sawyerr holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in Nigeria and a Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras in India. He speaks English, with a working knowledge of Hausa and basic French.