The Nigeria Army has condemned what it described as the sustained efforts by the Amnesty International (AI) to tarnish its image with spurious allegations of human rights abuses.
The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Kenneth Minimah, picked holes in the AI’s report released early this month and wondered what the agency hopes to achieve by consistently making wild allegations against responsible officers of the Nigerian military and the Armed Forces as an institution.
At a press conference addressed on behalf of General Minimah by Major General Adamu Baba Abubakar, Chief of Administration, Army Headquarters, the force said it has never hidden anything about the operations in the north east, adding that it has cooperated with Amnesty International by responding to two letters it wrote to the Army seeking clarifications to certain allegations.
“Amnesty International wrote a five-point questionnaire to the Nigerian Army in November 2014 alleging extra-judicial killings of some people by the military. The military responded immediately to the questions, providing answers precisely on December 23, 2014.
“Surprisingly, Amnesty International sent another 37-point questionnaire to the Nigerian Army which was answered, emailed and a hard copy delivered to the agency’s headquarters in London on December 23, 2014.
“If the military had anything to hide, it would not have responded to the 37 questions and other inquiries from the agency in the light of the constraints of time,” he said.
He wondered why the agency has continued to increase the number of people allegedly killed by extra-judicial means from 4,600 to 8, 000 and 13, 000 lately.
“No new facts have been unearthed to warrant the repeated allegations. However, the figures adduced by Amnesty International as victims of extra-judicial killings have kept increasing from 4, 600 to 8, 000 and as high as 13, 000 civilians in its latest allegations.”
The Chief of Army Staff also explained that the military has allowed officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit detainees in military facilities to personally assess the conditions under which captured Boko Haram fighters were being held.
He stated that the Nigerian military does not operate in any war theatre without following the proper rules of engagement and declared that the Army has zero tolerance for human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings and acts perceived as war crimes.
General Minimah assured, however, that allegations by the Amnesty International are being investigated despite overwhelming evidence that soldiers did not commit the atrocities it had consistently accused them of doing.
He appealed to the agency to be patient and await the outcome of the investigation assuring that since the military is a conventional and professional service organization, driven by international standards and best practices, anybody found guilty of the allegations would not go unpunished.
“Indeed, the Nigerian military is open to genuine criticism and allegations but requires time and patience to report back. It is in this spirit that Amnesty International and any interested party are encouraged to exercise necessary restraint and patience while awaiting the outcome of the ongoing investigations.”


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