DHQ: Allegations Of Human Rights Abuse By Amnesty International, Self-serving

By Anne Osemekeh, Abuja

The Defence Headquarters has described the allegations labelled against the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) by Amnesty International as self-serving.

Debunking the allegations in a statement on Monday, Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, said rather than join words with organisations such as Amnesty International, it would “encourage them to approach the military high command to substantiate their allegations”.

Amnesty International had, on Monday in Abuja, during a press conference, launched a report alleging that girls and young women freed from Boko Haram terrorists in northeast Nigeria continue to suffer severe hardships, including unlawful military detention, neglect, and inadequate support to start over.

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Titled, “‘Help us build our lives”: Girl Survivors of Boko Haram and Military Abuses in Northeast Nigeria,” the report probes how girls and young women have been abducted, forced into marriage, and subjected to sexual violence by Boko Haram.

The Amnesty researchers say they spoke to nearly 50 girls and young women who escaped Boko Haram and found their way to government-held territory, risking their lives and those of their children in the process, adding that 31 girls and young to whom they spoke described being unlawfully imprisoned in military custody between 2015 and mid-2023 for periods ranging from a few days to over four years, accused of having allegiances with Boko Haram. They described being humiliated by soldiers who called them “wives of Boko Haram” and accused them of being behind killings carried out by the terror group.

Buba, in his statement made it unequivocally clear that as a professional military force, the AFN operates within the ambit of International law of armed conflict, and adheres to humanitarian law and principles governing human rights.

“The military has self regulating mechanisms with which it administers the military justice system to address any proven case of misconduct of personnel.

“It is worthy of note to state that, the AFN led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa OFR, has zero tolerance for indiscipline and any form of improper conduct during operations across the country. It is for this reason that, there are standing court martials to treat any form of misbehaviour by erring personnel, especially those that portray the military negatively to the general populace.

The Director maintained that the AFN will remain focussed on its objective and “will be unperturbed by such self serving statements targeted at dampening the moral of troops in operational theatres”.

He also expressed the willingness of the AFN to engage constructively with Amnesty International, where available. “Overall, we will continue on the trajectory of conducting operations assiduously to defeat terrorism in our nation”, he said.

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