By Paul ObiÂ in Abuja
The Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday said the recent report released by Amnesty International (AI) on human rights abuse committed by the Nigerian military was a calculated attempt to weaken the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Director of Defence Information, Brig Gen John Agim explained that the report was peddled with falsehood and intention to cause disaffection.
Agim said: “The recent report released by Amnesty International (AI) on 22 February 2018 alleging human rights violations by the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), is a gross disservice to the nationâ€™s high security command.Â
“The action of AI seems to be geared towards weakening the efforts of the AFN at ensuring peace and security in the country. Â
“It has been observed that AI has made it a routine duty to continue generating tension among the citizens by releasing unconfirmed reports, unsubstantiated claims and figures relating to military counter-insurgency operations and wanton killings by unknown groups or persons.Â Â
“It is pertinent to re-iterate that the AFN as a responsible institution, financed by taxpayers, is bound to respond to these allegations in order to put the records in proper perspective.Â Â
“The AI allegations of human rights violations and extra judicial killing of civilians by the AFN have followed a specific trend for some time now. Â It could be noted that the organisationâ€™s allegations made against the AFN since 2011 to date are largely unsubstantiated.
“The figures released by the organisation showed that 4,900 Boko Haram detainees were held in Giwa Barracks in an overcrowded facility where 340 detainees had already died of diseases and dehydration.Â
“They further stated that 164 civilians were killed by the Nigerian Air Force when an IDP camp was hit at Rann by a Nigerian Air Force fighter Jet and also that 12 IPOB members were kill in Umuahia by the AFN.Â
“Unfortunately, AI has failed to acknowledge the on-going fair trial and conviction of culpable members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect and the release of those not found guilty.Â Â
“The number of persons released and re-integrated with the larger community is over 500. Both the convicted and freed suspects were earlier arrested from different locations across the country and taken to Kainji, a place that is relatively safer with enough space to accommodate them while providing the detainees with three square meals daily. Â
“The suspects were also given proper medical attention by military medical team attached to the detention facility. Â
Â It is notable that the arrested Boko Haram members from the ongoing Operation Lafiya Dole were being tried by the Federal High Court at Wawa Cantonment Kainji since Friday 16 February 2018 convicting 205 detainees to various jail terms while 526 suspects have been freed for want of evidence.
“Other sins of the Nigerian Government as captured by the AI in its report include infringing the rights of lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgender as well as intersex persons.Â Â
Agim maintained that “these AI championed rights have been strictly outlawed by Laws of the Federation of Nigeria subsuming the Nigerian constitution as well as the cultural practices of our people. Â
“This position of AI, clearly show slack of respect for the constitution of Nigeria which these laws have become part.Â Â
“Let it be known that the Nigerian Government and its people are not ready and would never be, even in future, to please AI or anyone with the introduction of such things.Â
“However, if AI feels strongly against the position of the Nigerian people on this issue and wants to assist the â€˜victimsâ€™, they could issue these class of people with green cards to enable them re-locateÂ to other places across the world that accept such practices as it may not be necessary for them to remain Nigerians.
“Generally, the authenticity and sources of figures generated by AI are worrisome.Â Regrettably, the military high commands were never contacted for clarification or guidance. Â
“The Defence Headquarters on its own made concerted efforts to meet with the country management of AI to discuss related issues without success, as they had consistently failed to show up.Â Â
“This reaction of AI connotes that the body in Nigeria could had been sponsored to frustrate conflict resolution efforts towards peace and positive development of the nation. Â Â
“The deliberate falsehood peddled by AI could cast the nation and its security apparatus in bad light. Â Meanwhile, AI does not seem to see anything wrong about the insurgentsâ€™ activities and known criminals until security agencies rise to the occasion of effectively containing their actions. Â
“It could be noted that anytime the AFN has reasonable assurances of getting military hardware and or expendables to further its operations or are recording remarkable successes, the AI as an organisation would come forward with falsehood to weep up anti-Nigerian sentiments within the international community. Â
These are evident in the AI reports from 2011 to date. Â
“Such reports had made in roads to the US congress a couple of years back leading to the invocation of Leahy Law against Nigeria at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency. The current report could have been ill-conceived to frustrate the on-going US-Nigerian anti-terrorism cooperation. Â
Agim added that “it could then be posited that the aim of AI in Nigeria is to cripple the countryâ€™s security apparatus through cheap blackmail in order to hold back necessary collaboration. Â
“The AFN has both constitutional and moral responsibility to protect Nigerian Citizens and cannot suddenly engage in mass murder as portrayed by AI. Â
“The AI reports are at variance with and do not reconcile the information we are collecting from the field on daily basis making these sources suspect.
“This is to inform the Nigerian public and the International Community that the AFN exhibit professionalism in its operations. Â
“Therefore, it is not proper an organisation in the class of AI to incite the Nigerian public and the international community against them.Â Currently, the AFN is bringing sanity to security challenges in the North East and other parts of country. Â Â
“The Nigerian Military does not in any way condone indiscipline or breach of set regulations, let alone want on killing of citizens or destruction of property.Â Â
“It is worthy to note that, the AFN regularly collaborate with the International Committee of Red Cross on training of personnel on laws of armed conflict and International humanitarian law.Â