Theatre Commander Operation Hadin Kai, Major General Ibrahim Ali before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in Maiduguri. Photo: Dauda Iliya/Radio Nigeria
The Commander of Sector 3 Multi-National Joint Task Force, Mongonu, Major-General Abdulsalam Enesi Abubakar said the Reports of Alleged Human Rights Violation by the Military during Counter-Insurgency Operations published by Reuters is unfounded.
As a professional institution, the Nigerian Army would not be involved in such heinous human rights violation, General Abubakar insisted.
He also claimed that the soldier who purportedly witnessed the incident as contained in the damning Reuters report was “not an authentic soldier of the Nigerian army”.
Testifying before the 7-man panel of experts, General Abubakar said as at 2018, a period referred to in the said report, Gasarawa was not occupied; rather, it was deserted.
The army General Wondered where Reuters got the number of children it said were killed by the Military in Gasarawa.
He explained that the Nigerian army is professionally trained to respect human rights and abide by international humanitarian law during war situations.
If the allegation contained in the Reuters report was true, “there would have been outcry, pictures, and evidence” to show the “outrageous act”, he told the investigative panel.
“To say 500 people were killed in 60 violence, is simply mischievous. I don’t know where that report is coming from. It is unfounded,” he added.
‘Army has no hand in alleged abortions’
Similarly, The Theatre Commander, Joint Taskforce Operation, Hadin Kai, Major-General Ibrahim Ali says women and children are not deliberate targets during the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in the North-East.
General Ali made the assertion when he appeared before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in the region.
Panel Secretary, Hillary Ogbonna, asked the Theatre Commander if he was aware of allegations by Reuters News Agency that 500 people were killed in Kukawa local government area in Borno State, to which General Ali replied that he had never heard about the incident.
Testifying before the Panel, chaired by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd), the Theatre Commander recalled that when he was the Commander, Operation Restore Order 3 at Damaturu, Yobe state, in 2013, the military arrested wife of former Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, as well as other suspects who were kept at the Government lodge and taken good care of.
According to him, troops in the frontline observe the international humanitarian law during operations and also provide first aid as well as other essential services to rescued women and children.
He insisted that no personnel would carry out such “gross human rights violations” of mass abortions without being detected.
“It is hard to believe, base on the training given to us at different military institutions from the NDA to Defence College, that an officer will give instructions to carry out such grievous human rights violations without any information leaked by the personnel themselves,” General Ali argued.
Reporting by Dauda Iliya and Tanimu Salihu; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino, Julian Osamoto and Tony Okerafor