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Nigeria’s General Sawyerr Takes Office as Force Commander UNISFA, South Sudan

Nigeria’s Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr has officially taken over as Force Commander/Acting Head of Mission for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

Major General Sawyerr took over on 15 March 2022 from Ethiopia’s Major General Kefyalew Amde Tessema who served the mission for about two years.

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, approved the appointment of General Sawyerr as Force Commander, UNISFA, was issued Tuesday February 1, 2022.

The UNISFA is a United Nations peacekeeping force in Abyei, an area being contested between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.

During the transfer of authority ceremony at the Missions Headquarters, Abyei, General Sawyer applauded the mandate implementation achievements of the Ethiopian peacekeepers under the leadership of the outgoing Force Commander and Acting Head of Mission, General Kafyalew Tessema especially in the areas of peace and security, pledging to build on his legacy.

Sawyerr lauded the Ethiopian troops for their immense contribution and sacrifice in pursuit of peace and security in the Abyei Area.

Ethiopia has been the only troop contributing country since the establishment of UNISFA in 2011 and has played a critical role in the prevention of conflict and advancement of the political process towards a sustainable solution for Abyei.

The Force Commander paid tribute to peacekeepers who have lost their lives to the cause of peace in Abyei.

Thanking the UN Secretary General for appointing him as UNISFA Force Commander and acting Head of Mission, General Sawyerr pledged to work closely with local and national authorities towards achieving the UNISFA mandate.

The outgoing Force Commander, General Kafyalew Amde Tessema thanked UNISFA peacekeepers for their selfless sacrifice towards the effective implementation of the mission’s mandate attributing the success of his tenure to the cooperation and understanding of these components.

General Sawyerr, a former Aide De Camps (ADCs) to Lieutenant General TY Danjuma (rtd), former Minister of Defence and former ECOMOG Force Commander, late Brigadier General Olatunji Olurin, General Sawyer is a member of the 27 Short Service Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).

He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Master of Science Degree in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Magravs, Defence Services Staff College Alex in India.

General Sawyer is a Fellow, National Defence College, Abuja.

He was Commanding Officer, 231 Battalion, Biu, Commanding Officer, Nigerian Battalion 22 United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Commanding Officer, 22 Brigade, Ilorin, Deputy Director of Doctrine and Combat Development from 2017 to 2018 and later Director of Plans, Department of Army Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army Headquarters between 2019 and 2020.

He was Commandant, Nigeria Armour School, Bauchi before his appointment as Director of Defence Information in July 2021. It is noteworthy that General Sawyer’s short stay as Director of Defence Information witnessed great improvement in Military-Media Relations.

The UNISFA Peacekeeping Force in Abyei was approved on 27 June 2011 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Resolution 1990 after a flare-up in the South Kordofan conflict earlier in June 2011.

Abyei is an area of 10,546 km2 on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. It has 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.

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