The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a youth vigilante group has told Amnesty international to provide evidence on its recent claims that security operatives in Borno State raped several females in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
This comes days after AI released a damning report that indicted soldiers and Civilian-JTF of taking advantage of starving women by sexually exploiting them when they requested for food.
The Federal Government and the military had earlier denied the allegations.
Boko Haram has in the over nine years of insurgency in the North-east Nigeria caused the displacement of over three million persons, majority from Borno State.
Most of these IDPs are women and children who have been taking refuge in camps run by the government and secured by the military and the CJTF.
There have been several claims that the security officials manning the camps sexually exploit the vulnerable women.
The AI report, which was published this week, said in part: “Scores of women described how soldiers and Civilian JTF members have used force and threats to rape women in satellite camps, including by taking advantage of hunger to coerce women to become their ‘girlfriends’, which involved being available for sex on an ongoing basis”.
In a statement, signed by the President and Secretary-General of the CJTF, Messrs Babalawan Jaafar and Muhammed Bukar, the vigilante group said its members ”have conducted themselves well while guarding most camps”.
Describing the claims of the AI as laughable, the CJTF officials tasked the rights group ”to substantiate their claims if they truly have evidence against them (CJTF)”.
“The attention of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) has been drawn to media reports credited to Amnesty International levelling serious allegations of rape and other crimes to the Nigerian Military and members of the Civilian JTF in the North-east. The leadership of the CJTF found the allegation as funny, laughable and embarrassing in its entirety. The CJTF deny all the allegations and call on Amnesty International to substantiate the allegation with facts.
“That the CJTF is a law abiding outfit and a respecter of the rights of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria particularly the rights of women and children. That the CJTF has over the years arrested and handed over to the relevant security agencies persons who engaged themselves in the commission of crimes against the citizenry.
“The CJTF remain focused in the discharge of its responsibilities and calls on all its members to be law-abiding at all times. That this baseless and unfounded allegations will not deter the CJTF in the discharge of its duties to the citizens and the nation at large,” the statement read.