The Defence Headquarters says Amnesty International (AI) has blackmailed the Nigerian military in its recent report by accusing the military of crimes against older people in the North East.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, said that there were contractions in the report.
“The attention of the Nigerian military has been drawn to the recent report released by Amnesty International, in its Chapter 3 (captioned) as “Nigerian Military Crimes”.
“The said report cannot be credible, as the research did not meet the universal academic or global best practice criteria,” he said.
He said that the research did not have the justifiable percentage of samples in the population claimed to have been investigated.
Enenche said that for the entire so-called research, the question is: “To whom is the loyalty of the respondents selected by Amnesty International? Boko Haram or peace-loving Borno citizens?
“However, it is desirable in the interest of the general public to bring out some contradictions in the report that tend to criminalise the Nigerian military, which is not true,” he said.
The coordinator described as baseless, the claims by Amnesty International that soldiers killed older people, among others, who were trying to flee from their homes.
He stressed that the military was guided by the extant Regulations and Rules of Engagement.
Enenche said that Amnesty International also admitted on Page 36 of their report that “during previous Amnesty International research, some former detainees, including children, admitted openly that they had been in the armed group, sometimes through recruitment and other times through abduction.
“Amnesty International cannot rule out that the older people interviewed for this report at times supported Boko Haram. This is to buttress the fact that the military will and cannot detain civilians unlawfully,” he said.
Enenche quoted the group as saying that in recent years, soldiers and Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) members involved in ‘screening’ had sent fewer older people, among other groups, to detention.
He said that the conditions had improved in recent years, especially as the Red Cross received more access to some military detention facilities, including the one in Giwa.
He said that the report also stated that soldiers had increasingly refrained from detaining older people fleeing Boko Haram-controlled areas in recent years.
“These, among several others, in the report are obvious contradictions to the portrayal of the Nigerian military by Amnesty International.
“As such, it is a deliberate attempt to discredit the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the North East, which should be resisted.
“Nigerians should be assured that the Armed Forces of Nigeria will not be deterred in the fight to rid the country of terrorists and criminals in spite of the allegations.
“The report is (a clear act of) desperation targeted at blackmailing the Nigerian military. Thus, the report should be discountenanced,” he said.