By Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) is jolted by a publication it called “demonic journalism”, expressing rage over an allegation that, since 2013, Nigeria’s military had run a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the North-East terminating at least 12,000 pregnancies among women and girls.
The DHQ declared that the military had never contemplated such evil of running a systematic and illegal abortion programme anywhere and anytime, and surely not on the Nigeria soil.
“The Nigerian military will not also deliberately plan to target children during its counterinsurgency operations or other operations, both within and outside Nigeria,” it stated.
Director Defence Information, Major General Jimmy Akpor, made this known in a statement while responding to Reuters series about purported actions of the Nigerian military during the government’s 13-year-war against Islamist insurgents in the North-East.
While dismissing the allegation, Akpor said “this new vocation of Reuters to discredit the Nigerian military and institutions is worse than illegal arms trade, worse than hard-drug trafficking, and actually worse than terrorism put together.”
According to him, the “supposed stories were purported to focus on two specific areas: First, supposed military-run programme of forced abortions performed on women and girls who were held captive and impregnated by Islamist militants and, second, a supposed killing of children by the military as part of counterinsurgency operations”.
He went on: “The Reuters report was to also allege that, since 2013, Nigeria’s military had run a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country’s North East terminating at least 12,000 pregnancies among women and girls.
“That many children, were shot, poisoned, suffocated or run down by vehicles in army-led actions. Furthermore, the report was to allege that soldiers selected babies and toddlers for killing after rescuing them and their mothers from Islamist militants, amongst other weighty concocted allegations.
“The key motive for supposedly carrying out the abortions was allegedly the notion that the children of Islamist militants, because of the blood in their veins, would one day follow in their father’s footsteps and take up arm against the Nigerian Government and society.
“The fictitious series of stories actually constitute a body of insults on the Nigerian peoples and culture for, no people or culture in Nigeria practices such evil as dreamt up by the Reuters team. Irrespective of the security challenges we face as a nation, Nigerian peoples and cultures still cherish life.
“Hence, Nigerian military personnel have been raised, bred and further trained to protect lives, even at their own risk especially, when it concerns the lives of children, women and the elderly.
“This much is reflected in Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs), Concepts of Operations, Rules of Engagements (ROEs) and other documents that guide military operations.
“Hence, nowhere has the Nigerian military operated (Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, [Darfur] Sudan, Gambia and Guinea Bissau, amongst others) that, there has been any trace or allegation of infanticide.
“The Nigerian military will not therefore, contemplate such evil of running a systematic and illegal abortion programme anywhere and anytime, and surely not on our own soil.
“The Nigerian military will not also deliberately plan to target children during its counterinsurgency operations or other operations, both within and outside Nigeria.
“The Reuters team must have been schooled in, and have now become proponents of scorched-earth and inhuman policies employed by colonialists during the colonial era and during the battles for independence in Indo-China, Malaysia, Algeria and other places.
Villages and crops were burnt
“Children, women, elderly, the innocent were killed in systematic and inhuman programmes.
“Nigerians, and by extension Nigerian military, are not made in such wicked mould, and the Reuters team cannot appropriate the evil of infanticide to the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Nigerian peoples.
“But, let’s interrogate the issues. It took Reuters 13 solid years to craft an allegation of infanticide against the Nigerian military and the Nigerian nation.
“This shows that a news agency as ‘renown’ as Reuters is itself complicit for failing in its mandate to draw attention, to inform the publics about supposed occurrences that offend not only the laws of armed conflict but also international humanitarian law.”