NIGERIAN MILITARY ACCUSES AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL OF BLACKMAIL
The Defence Headquarters has accused Amnesty International (AI) of blackmailing the Nigerian military in its recent report accusing the military of crimes against older people in the North East, a region prone to Boko Haram attacks.
In a report titled “My heart is in pain” released on Tuesday, December 10, 2020, the humanitarian agency, Amnesty International accused the Nigerian military of killing innocent and elderly people in Boko Haram fights in northeastern Nigeria.
The report comes over a week after the massacre of about 43 farmers in Borno state, which set a new standard of brutality in Boko Haram’s 11-year-old jihadist insurgency.
Reacting to this, the Nigeria Military said: "the said report cannot be credible as the research did not meet the universal academic or global best practice criteria, of having the justifiable percentage of sample in the population, claimed to have investigated and thus may not be credible.”
“For the so-called research, the question is, to whom is loyalty of the respondent selected by AI, Boko Haram or peace-loving Borno Citizens? However, it is desirable in the interest of the general public to bring out some contradictions in the report that tends to criminalize the Nigerian military which is not true, ” Military explained.
In the report published by Amnesty International, the NGO stated that it interviewed “only a few” older people who had fled Boko Haram areas in 2020, so was unable to determine if there had been changes in the military's behaviour over the last year. It also stated that some former detainees, including children, admitted openly that they had been in the armed group, sometimes through recruitment and other times through abduction.
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Responding to this section of the AI’s report, the Nigerian Military described as baseless, the claims by AI that soldiers killed older people, among others who were trying to flee from their homes, stressing that the military was guided by extant regulations and Rules of Engagement.
“AI cannot rule out that older people interviewed for this report at times supported Boko Haram. This is to buttress the fact that the military will and cannot detain civilians unlawfully,” the humanitarian agency said.
The Nigeria military kicked against the claim by the AI, saying that it will and cannot detain civilians unlawfully.
The military quoted AI as saying, “In recent years, soldiers and CJTF members involved in ‘screening” have sent fewer older people, among other groups to detention.
"Conditions have improved in recent years, especially as the Red Cross received more access to some military detention facilities, including Giwa.
“Soldiers had increasingly refrained from detaining older people fleeing Boko Haram controlled areas in recent years.”
The military said: “These among several others in the report are obvious contradictions to the portrayal of the Nigerian military by AI.
“As such, it is a deliberate attempt to discredit the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the North East which should be resisted.
“Nigerians should be assured that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will not be deterred in the fight to rid the country of terrorists and criminals in the country in spite of the allegations.
“The report is clear desperation targeted at blackmailing the Nigerian military. Thus, the report should be discountenanced.”