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A former Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Commander in Maiduguri, Major-General Rogers Ibe Nicholas (retd), on Wednesday wondered what the interest of some international nongovernmental organizations are in the current insurgency in the North-East.

Testifying before the National Human Rights investigative panel on rights violations by the military in the counter insurgency operation in the North-East, General Nicholas said over 300 NGOs were operating illegally in the embattled region, adding that some did not want insurgency to end in Nigeria.

According to him, “What is the agenda of an NGO coming to Maiduguri and paid rent for 15 years in dollars. That means they want the problem (insurgency) to continue.”

He added that some elements are trying hard to tarnish the image of Nigeria and that of the Nigerian Army by giving false narratives about counter insurgency operations in the North-East.

He submitted that, “people are being paid to write dirty reports for international organisations. The image of Nigeria, the image of the army are at stake.”

Reacting to allegations of rights violations contained in a four-part report published in December, 2022 and April, 2023 by news agency Reuters, the general allegations of illegal abortions on women and girls were not true.

He said contrary to Reuters report that abortions were carried out in Giwa Barrack, there was nothing of such, saying that, “it is not possible for abortion to take place in Giwa Barrack that I know.

“How is it possible for us to abort for women? If we abort for them, will that stop Boko Haram? Was that the cause of Boko Haram?”

He said no commander would give order to their soldiers to perform abortions for women, as, according to him, if there was anything of such it had to be documented as “all military orders are written and some are even transmitted. Verbal order is not an order”.

General Nicholas asserted that despite the fact that there are some disgruntled soldiers, some of whom had written series of letters to the President and the Senate, there has not been any letters written by such soldiers on any “systemic abortion programme” as claimed by Reuters.

“Abortions cannot end Boko Haram. It is possible to get disgruntled soldiers to say anything about the army. That military high command will give such order (to perform abortions for women), no way,” Nicholas said when told that Reuters stated that it interviewed some soldiers who claimed the abortions were carried out on order from high command.

He informed that there was no massacre of civilians by the military as claimed by the news agency, saying that the army’s mission in the North-East was to clear and defeat Boko Haram insurgents.

“My mission is to clear and defeat Boko Haram in my area of responsibility. To avoid any collateral damage, we evacuated all civilians who were willing to IDPs camps.

“In my operation area, there was nothing like that (massacre of civilians). The Nigerian Army is a professional organisation and soldiers are trained on human rights.

“I know much about issues of human rights before I became theatre commander. There was no reported issue of human rights abuse throughout my period as theatre commander,” Nicholas told the retired Justice Abdu Aboki-led panel.


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