By Augustine Osayande In reacting to the allegations against the Nigerian Military, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Friday said Amnesty International (AI) and deliberately supporting the callous acts of terrorism perpetuated by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP). They accused the International Human Rights Group of engaging in a campaign of calumny targeting the Nigerian Military
“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).
“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)” Acting Director Defence Information Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement
Nwachukwu added that the allegations being touted by AI is nothing but a betrayal of its lack of in-depth knowledge of the goings-on in the North East (NE) theatre of operation. He called on the group to understand that Nigeria is at war against terrorism in the North East and 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.
“It is expedient to state that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole who are conducting Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Operations in the NE 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 ones 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” Nwachukwu said
The Defence spokesman further stated that troops deployed to fight terrorism in the North East do not attack or raze down villages, communities or settlements, rather they launch offensive on terrorists camps, enclaves and hide outs. He said 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 and 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 Nigerias Military campaign against terrorism in the NE. We urge members of the public to please discountenance AIs report, as it is not a true and realistic reflection of troops’ counter terrorism operation in the NE” Nwachukwu said.