By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Defence Headquarters has accused Amnesty International (AI) of allegedly undermining the war against insurgency and criminality in Nigeria, saying the human rights organisation is not interested in lasting peace in the country.
Addressing a news conference Monday on the activities of the security outfit tagged ‘Operations 777’ at the headquarters of the 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, the acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. John Agim, maintained that Amnesty International has been churning out false reports against security agencies, especially the Nigerian Army with the intention to perpetually make Nigeria incapable of confronting its security challenges.
Agim, who was responding to questions bordering on human rights during military operations, also accused the human rights body of allegedly recycling reports of incidences deliberately designed to stop the United States from selling fighter jets to Nigeria.
According to Agim, “The armed forces and other security agencies recruit Nigerians into the forces based on quota system.
“This means that every segment of Nigeria has its kinsmen in the armed forces and other security agencies. So, we have representation and nobody will be happy if the military operates in his or her area and violates human rights of his people.
“When international organisations like the Amnesty International talk about human rights violation in Nigeria by the military, it is not simply that they don’t want us to violate human rights, it is deeper than that, the intention is to ensure that they perpetually make us not to be capable of confronting our challenges.”
He said: “In 2014, because of the reports of Amnesty International, the USA for instance invoked the Leahy Law where they refused to sell arms to Nigeria to confront this challenges.
“We don’t manufacture arms in Nigeria, but when our foreign partners refuse to sell arms to us, it affects all of us. We are just lucky that we have a professional military made up of people who are ready to lay down their lives for the country, otherwise the situation would have gone out of hand.
“In April 2018, we had a situation when the US accepted to sell us 12 Tucano aircraft. As soon as the international organisations saw that Americans were ready to collaborate with Nigeria, every month, Amnesty International sends out reports on violation of human rights by military.
“The military and other security agencies normally take very serious steps to ensure that human rights are safeguarded whenever they are engaged in any operation.”
According to him, military institutions in the country, “from the junior to the highest, are been taught law of arms so that you cannot go to any operation and do anything you like. Our service chiefs have human right desks”.
He said: “If you read reports of Amnesty International, like the one they have started publishing this year, they are putting what happened in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and they recycle it every month.
“So, you will see their reports and think the security agents have done something new. But if you take time to profile the report, you will discover that they are repeating the same thing.
“I want to assure you that the military is a Nigerian military and this military is made up of your brothers and sisters, so nobody will like to do anything wrong.
“Go back and look at the report of Amnesty International, it is difficult to use it to trace anybody who has done something wrong. And whenever we are doing anything, we invite them to come, they will say no, we are not coming. They never collaborate with us and they don’t even collaborate with Amnesty Nigeria.
“I have come to the conclusion that they are not ready to work with the country in ensuring we have a lasting peace.”
Earlier in his briefing on the activities of operations being conducted by troops of 1 Division, Nigerian Army, which is part of Operation 777, being conducted and coordinated nationwide by the Defence Headquarters, Agim said appreciable successes had been recorded in crushing criminal elements.
He said 14 notorious bandits and kidnappers were neutralised during the operations, adding that several assorted sophisticated arms, ammunition and large herds of cattle were recovered.
According to him, over 331 cows were recovered from rustlers in Birnin Gwari area, while another 132 cows were recovered in Birnin Yero area among others.
He added that the recovered animals were handed over to their screened and identified owners.
He also disclosed further that a total of 31 persons (18 children and 13 adults) were rescued from kidnappers within the area of operation.
He however regretted that two soldiers were wounded during the operations and were receiving treatment at military hospital in Kaduna.
He said troops of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force aircraft, police and other security agencies were conducting series of raids, ambushes, patrols, road blocks and air strikes against the identified camps/hideouts of bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements within the operational areas.
“The general areas where our troops operate are characterised by thick forests such as the Kamuku, Kuduru, Birnin Gwari and Alawa forests; the area also have several high grounds which bandits and kidnappers use as staging areas and camps to perpetrate their heinous acts,” he said.