The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has set up a panel to probe the allegation of an elaborate secret abortion programme operated by the Nigerian military in the North-east.
Reuters had in an investigative report published in December 2022 alleged that the Nigerian military ran the programme, secretly terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies of freed captives of Boko Haram terrorists in the troubled region over the years.
A spokesperson for the NHRC, Fatimah Mohammed, said in a statement on Tuesday that the inauguration of a seven-member panel appointed to probe the charge would take place 10 a.m. on 7 February. It will be held at the Bukhari Bello Auditorium located in the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
The panel is known in full as Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in the Implementation of Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East (SIIP-North East).
It will be led by Abdu Aboki, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, as the chairperson.
The NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, a Senior Advocate (SAN), according to the statement, has said the appointment of the panel was triggered by the Reuters’ report.
“Besides, the international media organisation had alleged that the Military was involved in the massacre of children as well as other Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the North East,” Mr Ojukwu said.
Many of the pregnancies, according to Reuters, resulted from rape of the kidnapped women and girls by Boko Haram fighters.
The sources for the story, according to the organisation, included dozens of witness accounts and documentation reviewed by Reuters.
The report had generated controversies with many calling for an independent investigation into the allegations of systemic and coerced abortions reportedly perpetrated by the Nigerian army.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had called on the Nigerian authorities to begin a thorough investigation and “immediate remedial actions and accountability measures.”
In its reaction, the Nigerian government, on the other hand, rejected the Reuters report, stating that there was no secret programme of forced abortions run by its military in the country’s northeast.
“The Federal Government hereby categorically states that there is no ‘secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme’ being run by our military in the northeast or anywhere across the country,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, had said.
Read the full statement below
NHRC APPOINTS SPECIAL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE PANEL ON COUNTER INSURGENCY OPERATIONS IN THE NORTH EAST
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will on Tuesday (7th February 2023) inaugurate a Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in the Implementation of Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East (SIIP-North East).
The inauguration will take place at Bukhari Bello Auditorium, NHRC Headquarters at 10am.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu OFR, SAN, who made this disclosure in Abuja Monday stated that the panel will among other things focus on investigating Reuters report which alleged that Nigerian Military was involved in abortion of many pregnancies in the North East in the last 10 years.
Besides, the international media organisation had alleged that the Military was involved in the massacre of children as well as other Sexual and Gender Based Violence(SGBV) in the North East.
However, the Military has refuted the allegations saying that it was a ploy to malign the image of the Nigerian Armed Forces which has been at the forefront of the counter insurgency efforts in the North East.
It would be recalled that the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor during his visit to the Commission in December 2022 told the Executive Secretary that the Military is willing and ready for any probe, particularly as it relates to Reuter’s report as stated above.
READ ALSO: Facebook partners with Reuters to launch free online course for
Members of the panel are Honourable Justice Abdu Aboki, retired Justice of the Supreme Court ( Chairman), Ms Kemi Okonyedo, representing Women Rights Organisation, Barrister Azubuike Nwankenta, representing NBA, Major General Letam Wiwa rtd (Military Law and Intelligence Expert), Dr. Maisaratu Bakari (Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology (Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital Yola), Dr. Fatima Akilu (Humanitarian Expert, representing Civil Society), and Ms. Halima Nuradeen (Psychologist, representing Youths).
Deputy Director Public Affairs.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999