Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col Mohammed Yerima
By Senator Iroegbu
The Defence Headquarters has demanded an unreserved apology from Reuters International and its reporters over the release of video clip alleging that soldiers killed unarmed civilians in Maiduguri Borno State, as part of their sustained onslaught against Boko Haram insurgency.
Reuters among others claims on Sunday, November 18, 2012 alleged that a soldier filmed his colleagues purported to be members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) while they were summarily executing civilians in Maiduguri. They have however withdrawn the reports, citing lack of authenticity.
The military in press conference organised by their spokespersons Wednesday in Abuja, demanded that despite the fact that Reuters had withdrawn what it describes as “malicious report,” it should in its apology give it same level of publicity it gave the video publication.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Col Mohammed Yerima, explained that the video clip was false in its entirety and fabricated for sinister motive.
Yerima gave a chronological evidence and documentation, which exposed the falsehood of the video that has already been published by Aljazeera Network on February 4, 2010, alleging that JTF were killing civilians in Jos, which were later found to be false.
He said that contrary to Reuters’ report and the video clip, the Nigerian Army does not use the type of vehicles shown on Internal Security Operations and especially not in JTF operations.
He also noted that the vegetation in the video clip was not typical vegetation obtainable in Maiduguri or in any arid region in Nigeria.
“That Nigerian soldiers on internal security operation do not use belts over their camouflage uniforms. In fact, it is only the Guards Brigade based in Abuja that uses their belt over camouflage uniforms in the Nigerian Army,” he said.
“Picture one of the report was used as the cover page of the Amnesty International report that was released on November 8, 2012. The same picture is again sued by Reuters who claimed it was captured two weeks ago. This, to a large extent, corroborates our conviction that there is a planned conspiracy to tarnish the image of JTF in Borno State,” he noted.
“We consider this action by Reuters International as one of the series of calculated campaign of calumny by some disgruntled local and international interests to discredit the integrity and professionalism of Nigerian Armed Forces,” he added.
“This unacceptable trend must stop. The Defence Headquarters demands an unreserved apology from Reuters International and its reporters, which must be given the same level of publicity that was given the malicious report,” he demanded.