Former Theatre Commander of “Operation Lafiya Dole” North East, Maj. Gen. Olusegun Gabriel Adeniyi, has refuted allegations of human rights abuse against the military by Reuters news agency.
Adeniyi who testified before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in the Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East, said the report of forceful abortions, infanticide and other forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) against the Nigeria military by Reuters was thoughtless as a bunch of lies.
Adeniyi who gave his oral testimony before the 7-Member panel Chaired by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd), wondered why it was only Reuters as a media organization that was privy to the alleged grave human rights violations.
According to Adeniyi who is presently the Director, Directorate of Counter Terrorism at the Army Research Centre, wondered why it was only Reuters that knew of such when there are many NGOs and International Partners that are active in Borno during the period.
“The allegation that Nigerian military terminated women pregnancies is not true. Things don’t just happen in the Army. Before anything happens, resources are committed, directives are given and those asked to carry out some actions report back.
“Secondly if such things happen soldiers will talk among themselves or at least gossip about them. These women I hope they are alive let them come out and say this is what happened to me..
“The military is open in what it does except in rare circumstances like operations and timing of operations, however, even the things that military is keeping open people will say it is secret. If the military buys ammunitions it is on the pages of newspapers even in the USA it is so.
“You will not coordinate any operation in the army without the knowledge of the higher echelon. So the issue of troops acting outside the rules is not permitted in the Army otherwise they will be court martialled”, Adeniyi explained.
Speaking further, he stated that such magnitude of infractions alleged against the military if they actually happened, they would have been in the government records and archives and people must know because there is nothing so secretive in the Nigerian Army.
“Since 1999 the military has been strictly subordinated by the democratic process therefore it will not be possible for anyone to do anything and nobody will know and administering 10,000 injections to this number of women to terminate pregnancies must be recorded somewhere”, he added.
He also recalled that in the past, most of the allegations against the Nigeria Armed Forces normally come up when the State is over powering the insurgents, adding that it is treasonable for any soldier to commit such offences as claimed by Reuters.
“An average Nigerian Soldier is above 18 years and I did not see any Medical Officer risking his medical certificate by aborting pregnancies. These women are kidnapped after shooting and killing their family members by Boko Haram and thereafter keep them under forced protective custody even though it is wrong, so why will soldier now kill the children of such women or terminate their pregnancies”, he said.
The former theatre Commander said that if the soldiers were interested in killing anyone from the camp of insurgents who are now in custody, they would have started with the Boko Haram members in Army custody instead of women and children who were not bearing arms.
He said that many of the Boko Haram members who sustained injuries before they were captured are still receiving medical treatment from military hospitals and no soldier has harmed them because it is against the law to kill any combatant upon capture since he did not die in the frontline.
In furtherance of his oral evidence, he told the panel that Nigerian soldiers are not revengeful and are not wild or wired with wrong ideologies to act in such a manner that would undermine the rights of women and children in the course of military operations.