Nigeria’s federal government has described as baseless a report by an international news agency that alleged that the military was running covert and systematic abortion programme in the north-east in the war against Boko-Haram and ISWAP fighters.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the rebuttal on Monday in Abuja, at the 10th edition of the ‘PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023).
This was just as the Minister of Minister of Science and Technology, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, revealed that the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) had established a space museum and planetarium to boost tourism and generate over N30 billion over a 15–year period.
Mohammed said the report that claimed that 10,000 such abortions had been carried out from
2013 to date, on women and girls by the military because “the children of insurgents were predestined, by the blood in their veins, to one day take up arms against the Nigerian government and society,” was a grave allegation without a scintilla of evidence as it only cited anonymous sources and phantom documents.
He said it was downright dangerous to accuse a nation’s military without any verifiable evidence of massive illegal abortions and infanticide.
The minister scorned the report saying the news agency claimed that its investigation was based on interviews with 33 women and girls.
“Interview with 33 women and girls to arrive at the bogus claim of 10,000 abortions? And in a further indication that the figure of abortions quoted was arbitrary or possibly conjured, the agency first put the figure at 12,000 before settling for 10,000.
“The federal government hereby categorically states that there is no ‘secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme’ being run by our military in the Northeast or anywhere across the country.
“We also hereby reject the accusation of running an abortion programme leveled at our military. This story is a scary instance of fake news and disinformation combined. The writers deserve an award in fiction writing,” Mohammed said.
He questioned the motive of the news agency and the usual suspects who latched on to the story at a time the military was decimating the terrorists, rescuing abducted persons and receiving hundreds of thousands of terrorists who had surrendered.
“Why is this news agency not playing up this positive news but instead chose to give prominence to a phantom abortion story? Is this a ploy to demoralize and distract our fighting forces? Is it a strategy to set the world against Nigeria and cut off the support that is critical to crushing terrorists?
“Only the news agency can answer these questions. But we stand by our military, which has served meritoriously at home, and at regional and global peacekeeping operations from 1960 to date. We know that military operations in the north-east are not arbitrary but based on the military’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and Rules of Engagement (ROE), among others,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mamora who was the 10th minister to attend the series, said the NADSDA Space unmanned air vehicle when developed would fetch money for the country, boost tourism sector and provide 5,000 direct jobs, 20,000 indirect jobs as well as enhance the teaching of STEM.
In the area of defence technology, he revealed a breakthrough by two agencies – the National Institute of Science, Leather and Technology (NILEST) and Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) – in the production of specialised and normal military that could enable tracking and surveillance.
Others successes included the production of hygienic military rations of food and dry packs of meat, biscuits and soups.
He also listed other landmark achievements to include the development of solid rocket fuel and production of drones into space for the defence of the country.
Mamora added that the country’s oldest research institute, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) was working towards adding 10 per cent of cassava content into flour in bread making process.
The move was due to the increase in the cost of bread which is a staple widely consumed by Nigerian households partly due to scarcity caused by the Russia- Ukraine conflicts.