Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya has challenged Reuters to provide evidence to substantiate its claim of abortion of 10,000 pregnancies, massacre of children and other Sexual and Gender Based Violations leveled against the Armed Forces,
The COAS issued the challenge while testifying before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East, insisting that it appears that Reuters is acting a script to rubbish successes in the North East.
Making reference to the Reuters report, he said “some people are gifted in writing just like in novels, describing what they never witnessed forgetting that in the military if you waste any ammunition you will be court martialed. We are not a mercenary Army, we are a professional Army.”
He added that: “We are succeeding and not many are happy that we are succeeding, they cannot reverse our successes therefore they rubbish it.
“Sometimes, they are playing other peoples script. We are not Boko Haram terrorists, we are trained to be professionals and the training is continuous.”
He further said: “Maybe they don’t know we are operating under the government. The National Human Rights Commission follows what is being done in the military and what we are doing is internal operation; we are operating in our country. The Army is Nigerian Army and we are not like Boko Haram that does not operate under code of conduct.”
According to the erstwhile Commander 29 Task Force Brigade, Nigerian Army is majorly concerned about fighting the insurgency and restoring peace in the North East and therefore could not have abandoned this noble cause to engage in abortion of 10,000 pregnancies.
“In addition, caution is planted in our head that the people you are fighting are Nigerians and there is no policy like that, rather the policy we have is respect for human beings, we are not more Nigerian than the people, that is why in the Nigerian Army, the allegation is just grammar; our business is to defeat the insurgents.”
Testifying further before the 7-Member panel chaired by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd), the witness said while the military is buying arms to fight the insurgents one would have expected Reuters to support the efforts instead of adopting this “textbook solution” that does not reflect the reality of the situation in the North East.
Asked by the panel’s secretary, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna to explain Reuters’ claim that soldiers massacred many children perceived to have been fathered by Boko Haram, he said, “This is laughable because even if there is stigma attached to such children, is it the Army that will stop the stigma?”
Michael Olugbode in Abuja