The Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Gen. Leo Irabor, has called on the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to investigate allegations of abortion and infanticide carried out on some women and children in the North East.
Reuters, an international news wire agency, had in a recent report, alleged that the Nigerian military forcefully terminated the pregnancies of arrested and detained Boko Haram women.
It also claimed that military authorities also extra-judicially killed children of terrorists, for fear of them taking after their parents.
But during a visit to the NHRC Headquarters in Abuja, on Friday, Irabor, maintained that the Reuters’ story is evil, aimed at casting aspersions on troops’ efforts to contain insecurity, generally in the country.
The CDS, however said that the leadership of the Nigerian military welcomes an independent and thorough probe by a neutral organisation like NHRC.
“Being an institution that is guided by law, we deemed it fit to call on the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the allegations, with a view to getting to the bottom of the issues raised. That is why we are here formally,” he said.
According to him, what Reuters is accusing their Armed Forces of perpetrating does not represent the professional standing of the Nigerian military, together with the DNA of their combat operations in various parts of the country.
Irabor, who assured the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, and his management team, that their doors will be open for them to conduct a thorough investigation, noted that their officers will also be available to answer their questions.
He said: “We want you to conduct a thorough investigation. And by the time you decide to do so, you can be assured that we will grant you unfettered access to all of our military establishments not only in the North East, but across the country”.
The Defence Chief, explained that since their military is at the core of the issues raised, they are committed to giving their full cooperation towards achieving the objective of the proposed investigation of NHRC.
“We have always adhered to the tenets of international humanitarian laws, while also abiding by our professional ethical codes, together with the military Operation Procedures, in all that we do in the North East, and other parts of the country,” said Gen. Irabor.
Responding, Ojukwu, said the request of the Defence Chief is in line with the determination of their Commission to investigate the Reuters’ allegations because of the human rights implications.
He said their Commission will soon announce further steps in the near future towards the constitution of the Panel of Investigation into the Reuters Report.
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