Irabor Insists Reuters Reports On Mass Abortion Against Military In North East Spurious
By Bukar Bolori
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor has declared as spurious, the human rights violations allegations levelled against the Nigerian military by news agency, Reuters.
Reuters in a series of reports had alleged the military in it’s counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast over the decade of human rights violations including forcefully abortion of over 10,000 pregnancies of women believed to be linked with the Boko Haram terrorist group and several killings of children who were fathered by alleged terrorists.
Irabor, who appeared in Abuja on Friday before the National Human Rights Commission investigative panel on rights violation in counter-insurgency operations by the military in the North-East, said the allegation was “not only shocking but also spurious.”
The CDS, who held various posts in the theatre of war in the North-East, including Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole and Commander, Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), told the panel that having been involved, there was no time he saw any abortion being carried out on women and girls to prevent regeneration of Boko Haram insurgents.
He said: “I have been involved in the operation. I never saw any of sort (abortions). It was a surprise to me for someone to orchestrate such report (Reuters’ report).
“I am glad that this panel was constituted to investigate the allegations. It was a rude shock that such allegations could be attributed to the armed forces of Nigeria.”
He described the Reuters’ allegation as unfounded, insisting that the report that over 10,000 abortions were enforced by the military in the North-East through a deliberate policy as a strange allusion, declaring that if such policy was in place, it was not the responsibility of the armed forces to execute such.
He said: “These are strange allusion. The Armed Force of Nigeria engages in internal security to defend the people and the country and fight criminal elements.
“On what ground so we want to stop regeneration of Boko Haram criminals? If this so-called principle is in place, it is not the responsibility of the armed forces to be involved.”
He assured that he would give the soldiers Reuters claimed it interviewed in it report immunity with a view to enabling them to come before the panel to testify.
Irabor told the panel that throughout the period he spent in the theatre of war, he never heard of any group of women called wives of Boko Haram to the extent that their freedom was restricted.
He, however, said what he witnessed were “those rescued who have had one association or the other with Boko Haram”, adding that these people, both male and female were Nigerian citizens who found themselves under criminals’ oppression.
The CDS said among those rescued in the theatre of war were over 100 Chibok girls, some of whom were with children and asserted that should the military have had in place a policy of cleansing women of Boko Haram, they were the perfect set to be use to do so, asking, “who else could have been cleanse than the Chibok girls we rescued with their children?”
He informed the panel that there were always teams from the International Red Cross, Borno State government and both local and international non-governmental organisations and as such the military could not have carried out any “systemic, secret and illegal” abortions as claimed by Reuters.
He added that if it was a programme of the military as alleged, it could not have been in isolation as the hierarchy of the military would have been in the know, asserting that such policy never exists within the armed forces.
Irabor while describing the massacre of children claimed in the report as gory, said that children could not have been massacred by members of the armed forces, adding that military code of conduct prohibits members of the forces from engaging in such.
He said engaging in such act could even lead to death sentence on the perpetrators.
The CDS however appealed that this kind of report should not be given credence to as officers and men of the Nigerian Armed Forces had made sacrifices and whoever wanted to disparage their image would only be discouraging the gallant men and women.