Present Evidence of 10,000 Abortion Claims, COAS Charges Reuters
Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Farouk Yahaya (COAS), has challenged Reuters to bring up evidence to substantiate its claim of abortion of 10,000 pregnancies, massacre of children and other sexual and gender based violations levelled against the Armed Forces,
Yahaya issued the challenge while testifying before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter Insurgency Operations in the North-east, insisting that it appeared that Reuters “is acting a script to rubbish our success in the North East.”
Making reference to Reuters report, he said some people “are gifted in writing just like in novels, describing what they never witnessed forgetting that in the military if you waste any ammunition you will be court martialed. We are not a mercenary Army, we are a professional Army.”
He said: “We are succeeding and not many are happy that we are succeeding. They cannot reverse our successes therefore they rubbish it. Sometimes, they are playing other peoples script. We are not Boko Haram terrorists, we are trained to be professionals and the training is continuous.”
He further said: “May be they don’t know we are operating under the government. The National Human Rights Commission follows what is being done in the military and what we are doing is internal operation. We are operating in our country. The Army is Nigerian Army and we are not like Boko Haram that does not operate under code of conduct.”
According to the army chief, Nigerian Army is majorly concerned about fighting the insurgency and restoring peace in the North-east and therefore could have abandoned this noble cause to engage in abortion of 10,000 pregnancies.
“In addition, caution is planted in our head that the people you are fighting are Nigerians and there is no policy like that, rather the policy we have is respect for human beings, we are not more Nigerian than the people, that is why is Nigerian Army, the allegation is just grammar our business is to defeat the insurgents.”
Testifying further before the seven-member panel chaired by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd), the witness said while the military is buying arms to fight the insurgents one would have expected Reuters to support the efforts instead of adopting this “textbook solution” that does not reflect the reality of the situation in the North-east.
Asked by the panel’s secretary, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna to explain Reuters’ claim that soldiers massacred many children perceived to have been fathered by Boko Haram, he said, “This is laughable because even if there is stigma attached to such children, is it the Army that will stop the stigma”?