This Day (Lagos)

7 November 2012

Nigeria: Army Faults Amnesty International Report

Photo: vanguard.
Boko Haram: Nigeria’s winning the war.

The Nigerian Army has condemned the recent Amnesty International report, which accused the Joint Task Force (JTF) of gross human rights violations in its operational approach in dealing with the activities of the Boko Haram sect.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa,, in a media chat yesterday in Abuja, said the methodology used by the human rights group was faulty.

Ihejirika, who was represented by the Chief of Civil Military Affairs, Maj-Gen. Bitrus Kwaji, described the report as unbalanced and highly subjective in favour of the aspirations of the Boko Haram sect.

He said the military was never contacted or consulted, while the group was gathering information and conducting interviews from members of the sect, from where they got their report.

Amnesty International had last week released a report titled: 'Nigeria: Trapped in the Cycle of Violence', which was documented on the activities of the sect.

Ihejirika, however, debunked such allegations, saying it was biased and ill-conceived with the intention of rubbishing the efforts of the military in restoring peace, protecting lives and property, while also maintaining law and order.

He said: "I am happy to observe that Amnesty International recognised that all the acts of Boko Haram were against Nigerian laws. They also recognised the fact that Boko Haram attack against civilians is a crime against humanity."

"We, however, have issues agreeing with the mythology used to get the reports which did not give the military fair hearing. They in their report regarding the methodology used admitted to have spoken with affected members of the public in Borno, Bauchi, Kano and Federal Capital Territory (FCT); read newspaper reports and statements from Boko Haram.

"No place did they state that they got in touch with us. They never made any effort to reach us. We have our modes of operation, which is being complied by our officers and there have not be any reports of violation or our officers going outside this (rules of engagement. We want to say that we have not been contacted by Amnesty International of any acts of high-handedness by our soldiers, of which their commander is a battle tested professional," he added.

Ihejirika emphasised: "Amnesty should have felt the pulse of the military. If the Boko Haram used children and women as a shield for IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) what would the patrolling soldiers do."

"The Amnesty International report is skewed in favour of Boko Haram, not taking into cognisance of all our efforts to ensure that the law abiding citizens go about their normal duties without fear or favour."

The COAS also debunked the allegation that the JTF might have had a hand in the killing of Gen. Mohammed Shuwa, who was killed in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, by unknown assailants.

He described as wicked, malicious and unpatriotic allegations that members of the Armed Forces could have killed one of their own and a respected wartime military general.

"So because Boko Haram denied that they did not kill Shuwa, and you now turn around to accuse JTF of killing him. A respected statesman and a civil war hero," he queried.

"This is unattainable. This is unacceptable and we want to out-rightly debunk this allegation. We can't take it. That is like questioning the patriotism of our soldiers and how can we kill our own," he noted.

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