Defence HQ Accuses Amnesty International Of Supporting Terror Groups

The Defence Headquarters has accused Amnesty International (AI) of “deliberately supporting” the acts of terrorism perpetrated against Nigeria by the Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African State (ISWAP) terror groups.

This was contained in a statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu on Friday.

The military cautioned the group to put an end to its “reckless distortion of facts” in its bid to satisfy “its puppeteers by undermining Nigeria’s Military campaign against terrorism in the North East.”

“The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has taken cognizance of yet another falsified report by Amnesty International (AI) in a campaign of calumny targeting the Nigerian Military and deliberately supporting the callous acts of terrorism perpetuated by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP),” the statement said.

“This inglorious campaign is contained in a recent report alleging employment of unlawful tactics of razing down villages and unlawful detention of locals by troops. This is line with the AIs usual mannerism and tenacious efforts aimed at disparaging the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).

“The Defence Headquarters wishes to state unambiguously that the allegations being touted by AI are nothing but a betrayal of its lack of in-depth knowledge of the goings-on in the North East (NE) theatre of operation.”

Defence Headquarters

The statement stated that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole who are conducting Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East do not employ arson as an operational tactic.

“It is a well-known fact, going by the modus operandi of BHTs, that they have more often than not engaged in the atrocious acts of looting and burning of villages, as well as destroying infrastructures.

“It therefore, beats one’s imagination that AI is attributing these atrocities to AFN troops who are legitimately defending the country guided by extant rules of engagement and operational codes of conduct.

“AI must understand the fact that Nigeria is at war against terrorism in the NE and that the troops have a constitutional mandate to protect lives and property, even if it means conducting an evacuation to save and secure lives of civilians in the conflict. Protecting civilians by evacuating them from the line of fire during combat is not a violation of the international law of conflict or a war crime.

“It is rather a commendable effort by the troops to prevent collateral damage during combat. Our troops should therefore be commended for making deliberate efforts to evacuate civilians in order to protect their lives and property.

“It is also crucial to point out, that troops deployed to fight terrorism in the NE do not attack or raze down villages, communities or settlements, rather they launch offensive on terrorists’ camps, enclaves and hideouts.

“Based on actionable intelligence, persons who provide logistics and other forms of support to the terrorists are arrested and subjected to thorough investigation by a combined team of professionals drawn from the intelligence community of the Armed Forces and other security agencies. Anyone not found culpable is not held in custody for further investigations.

“AI must therefore put an end to its reckless distortion of facts in its desperate bid to satisfy its puppeteers by undermining Nigeria’s Military campaign against terrorism in the NE.”

The defence headquarters urged members of the public to discountenance the human rights group’s report, as it is “not a true and realistic reflection” of troops’ counter terrorism operation in the northeast.

The AI had in its report released earlier on Friday said the “Nigerian military has burned and forcibly displaced entire villages in response to a recent escalation in attacks by the armed group Boko Haram.”

The group said its findings were based on interviews with affected villagers in Borno State and satellite data analysis.

“The military also arbitrarily detained six men from the displaced villages, continuing a pattern of violations Amnesty International has documented throughout the country’s decade-long armed conflict in the northeast. The men were held incommunicado for almost a month and subjected to ill-treatment, before their release on 30 January 2020,” AI said in the report.

“These brazen acts of razing entire villages, deliberately destroying civilian homes and forcibly displacing their inhabitants with no imperative military grounds, should be investigated as possible war crimes,” added Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

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