By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Defence Headquarters has accused Amnesty International (AI) of blackmailing the Nigerian military, citing its recent report accusing the military of crimes against older people in the North East.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on Wednesday, said there were contractions in the report.
“The attention of the Nigerian military has been drawn to the recent report released by Amnesty International in its chapter 3 as “Nigerian Military Crimes”.
“The said report cannot be credible as the research did not meet the universal academic or global best practice criteria,” he said.
He said the research did not have the justifiable percentage of sample in the population claimed to have been investigated.
According to him, 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,” he said.
The coordinator described as baseless, the claims by AI that soldiers killed older people, among others who were trying to flee from their homes.
He said the military was guided by extant regulations and Rules of Engagement.
According to him, 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,” he said.
Enenche quoted AI as saying, “In recent years, soldiers and CJTF members involved in ‘screening” have sent fewer older people, among other groups to detention.
He said the conditions had improved in recent years, especially as the Red Cross received more access to some military detention facilities, including Giwa.
He said the report also stated that soldiers had increasingly refrained from detaining older people fleeing Boko Haram controlled areas in recent years.
“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.
“Nigerians should be assured that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will not be deterred in the fight to rid the country of terrorists and criminals in the country in spite of the allegations.
“The report is clear desperation targeted at blackmailing the Nigerian military. Thus, the report should be discountenanced,” he said.