Borno Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo said military are not allowed into camps housing rescued women and children.
Gambo made this known while testifying before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in the North East (SIIP North-East) presided over by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd)
The panel was constituted by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) based on Reuters news agency’s three-part report, alleging human rights violations by the military.
The reports alleged that the military organised 10,000 illegal abortions and killing of children suspected to be fathered by Boko-Haram members between 2013 to 2019.
Gambo said that the military duty was to guard the camps and they remain outside the camps to perform that role.
According to her, Reuters’ report was a surprise, adding that her the ministry and it agencies are active in the camps regarding welfare of women and children and did not record any case of abortion or massacre of children as alleged by Reuters.
On the possibility of the military or any person administering drugs like oxytocin to abort pregnancies of women and girls in the rehabilitation camps as alleged, Gambo said that cant be true since they are not allowed into camps.
“The women are emotionally attached to their husbands and the allegation that soldiers or other public servants could abort pregnancies of their beloved wives is unimaginable”, the commissioner
According to her, the men at some point complained to the representatives of the state in the camps that they would not want their wives to be attended to by men, so she wondered how such “jealous men” could allow anyone to touch their wives let alone aborting their pregnancies.
Gambo observed that the the only casualties involving children in the camps are those associated with early childhood diseases like measles and diarrhea.
Also testifying before the panel, Maj. Gen. I.M Yusuf the Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) who is former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Maiduguri, described Reuters report as attempt to distract the military, pointing out that if there was such abortions and killings, the public would have spoken.
Yusuf said the Military is a regimented institution that pays particular attention to every detail in relating with people.
“When you throw away the rule of law, you have lost it, you cannot win the hearts and minds of the people you are protecting, they will also not trust you, and it will be difficult for you to operate in their territory”, he said.
In his testimony, the Borno Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary Borno State Ministry of Justice, Garba Musa Chibok, urged the panel to also invite Reuters to testify.
Chibok said during the period (2013) of Reuters report, the state was in in turmoil, while the military was bothered about neutralizing the terrorists.
“Tell me, in this situation who has time to think of anything like abortion?
“I am from Chibok and I am seriously affected by this problem, all the children rescued from the frontline are alive, I know them some of them are my relations, you can call them to come here and talk to you,” Chibok said.