By Kingsley Nwezeh
Military authorities yesterday tackled human rights group, Amnesty International (AI) over its recent report on military operations in the North-east, saying it discredited the military.
It said in a statement that the report, which, among other issues claimed that the military killed aged people who were fleeing conflict areas.
It said the research the AI claimed it conducted did not meet the universal academic or global best practice criteria of having the justifiable percentage of sample in the population, claimed to have been investigated and thus may not be credible.
The statement signed by the Coordinator of the Directorate of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, queried the loyalty of the respondents interviewed by the organisation and wondered whether they were loyal to Boko Haram or peace loving Borno citizens.
“The attention of the Nigerian military has been drawn to the recent report released by Amnesty International (AI) in its chapter 3 as ‘Nigerian military crimes.’
“In as much as the Nigerian military do not wish to join issues, it is imperative to clear the air. In the first place, the so-called research does not meet the universal academic or global best practice criteria, of having the justifiable percentage of sample in the population, claimed to have been investigated and thus may not be credible”, it said.
The DDMO noted that “for the entire so called research, the question is, to whom is the loyalty of the respondents 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 criminalise the Nigerian military which is not true”.
It argued that “on page 34 of the report it stated: ‘AI interviewed only a few older people who had fled Boko Haram areas during 2020, so was unable to determine if there had been changes in the military’s behaviour over the last year’.
“Note; the inability of AI to determine the military’s behaviour. Additionally, in the said report, the AI claimed that soldiers killed older people, among others who were trying to flee from their homes.”
“This accusation is also baseless as the military is guided by extant regulations and Rules of Engagement”.
Enenche maintained that “AI also admits on page 36 of their report that ‘during previous Amnesty International research, some former detainees, including children, admitted openly that they had been in the armed group – sometimes through recruitment and other times through abduction. 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”.
Additionally, AI stated that “In recent years, soldiers and CJTF members involved in ‘screening” have sent fewer older people, among other groups to detention. This report also states that “Conditions have improved in recent years, especially as the Red Cross received more access to some military detention facilities, including GIWA”.
Furthermore, the report stated that, “in recent years, soldiers have increasingly refrained from detaining older people fleeing Boko Haram controlled areas”.
The statement 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.”
The statement further maintained that Nigerians should be assured that the Armed Forces of Nigeria would not be deterred in the fight to rid the country of terrorists and criminals in the country despite the allegations.
“The report is clear desperation targeted at blackmailing the Nigerian military. Thus, the report should be discountenanced,” it said