The Nigerian military has accused human rights organisation, Amnesty International (AI), of fabricating its latest report about extrajudicial killings and torture of 240 people in the country’s north-east and 177 pro-Biafran agitators.
In a statement signed by acting director defence information, Rabe Abubakar, a brigadier general, the military described the report as a continuation of AI’s “series of spurious fabrications aimed at tarnishing the good image of the Nigerian military.”
Amnesty International has been relentless in its exposure of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by Nigerian soldiers in the country’s war against Boko Haram and the military’s ruthlessness in quelling protests in other parts of Nigeria.
The organisation’s latest reports stated that 240 people including infants died in a dreaded military detention centre in Borno in 2016 while 177 pro-Biafran agitators were extra-judicially killed same year.
“At the military detention facility at Giwa barracks, Maiduguri, cells were overcrowded. Diseases, dehydration and starvation was rife. At least, 240 detainees died during the year. Bodies were secretly buried in Maiduguri’s cemetery by the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency staff. Among the dead were, at least, 29 children and babies, aged between newborn and five years.”
On the killings of pro-Biafra agitators, the report alleged that, “Since January, in response to the continued agitation by pro-Biafra campaigners, security forces arbitrarily arrested and killed, at least, 100 members and supporters of the group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. Some of those arrested were subjected to enforced disappearance.
“On February 9, soldiers and police officers shot at about 200 IPOB members, who had gathered for a prayer meeting at the National High School in Aba, Abia State. Video footage showed soldiers shooting at peaceful and unarmed IPOB members; at least, 17 people were killed and scores injured.”
However, the military, like it has repeatedly done in the past, denied the claims contained in the report saying “they were contrived lies orchestrated to blackmail and ridicule the Nigerian Armed Forces.”
Mr. Abubakar said AI is in the habit of encouraging “activities of non-state actors who take up arms against the state, killing, maiming and destroying public property.”
“In as much as the Nigerian military acknowledges and respects the views and constructive criticism of individuals, groups or even international organisations including Amnesty International, it will not fall for nor accept the deliberate falsehood that have no bearing with the fact or reality on ground.
“The truth is that the Nigerian military has always been open in its operations and do not hide its activities from the probing eye of the public. Amnesty International chose to bandy fabricated reports and concocted stories instead of seeking clarifications from the relevant authorities.”
“It smacks of mischief for the AI to insist on publishing unverified and unsubstantiated report as it is only them that knows why it embark on such dishonourable venture over a period of time,” he said.
“The Nigerian military rejects this AI reports in its entirety and appeals to all well meaning Nigerians to disregard the report and discountenance its contents as they were meant to paint Nigeria in bad light. We reassure our citizens of our commitment to terminate these myriads of security challenges facing our country, mindless of unfounded reports and cheap blackmail by AI,” he added.