Abuja — Defence Headquarters yesterday refuted allegations of sexual assault in some army barracks in the North-east.
A statement issued in Abuja said the allegations of sexual assault in Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri and Maiduguri Maximum Security Prison, contained in the recent report of the Amnesty International (AI) was concocted.
The statement signed by Defence Spokesman, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the report was a poor attempt to dampen the morale of troops.
"The Defence Headquarters has taken note of yet another ill-conceived report by Amnesty International (AI) aimed at disparaging the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in the fight against terrorism and counter-insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country.
"The AI's recent allegation that its investigation has revealed sexual assaults in detention facilities at Giwa Barracks Maiduguri and the Maiduguri Maximum Security Prison is only a rehash of its characteristic unfounded and ill-conceived accusations against the AFN," he said.
Nwachukwu said "while the AFN will not speak for the authorities of the Maiduguri Maximum Prison, we wish to emphatically state that such allegations are mere concoction of the organisation and the interest it seeks to represent. The report is nothing but an attempt to push further its campaign of calumny against the AFN, as the allegations are remotely impossible.
"It is instructive for AI and their sponsors who may be more interested in the failure of Nigeria in the ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency to note that these accusations are unfounded and a very poor attempt at dampening the morale of troops of the AFN".
The Acting Director of Defence Information said "the Giwa barracks detention facility is a national facility, therefore, the suspects or inmates are jointly handled by professional investigators drawn from the Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigerian Police, Department of State Security, Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Prisons Service and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.
"It is therefore, near impossible for these team of professionals to look the other way, while sexual violations are perpetrated as wrongly insinuated by AI."
It is also pertinent to add that the detention facility has adequate representation of highly professional members of International Organisations and Non-Governmental Agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other reputable NGOs that have unfettered access to the facility and scrutinise its activities from time to time in accordance with international best practices in managing detainees".
He said AI had persistently chosen the part of denigrating the Armed Forces of Nigeria even as other international groupd worked to bring peace to the region.
"While other reputable international organisations in the North-east and other parts of the country have been working to bring about enduring peace in the North-east, it is rather unfortunate that AI has impenitently chosen a path that seeks to denigrate the AFN, a task it has continued to pursue blindly and tenaciously through its glaring bias reports.
"The DHQ wishes to appeal to members of the public and the international community to discountenance AI's malicious report and continue to give requisite support to the AFN in the fight against terrorism, insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country", he said.