Abati faults Al-Jazeera, others on State Of Emergency report

By The Citizen

The Presidency has reacted to a video report by Al-Jazeera on ongoing military operations in the North East region of the country, saying the distasteful material titled: 'Civilians among dead in Nigeria offensive', is an untrue account of situations, and an attempt to 'put the government and the people of Nigeria in bad light'.

The Special Adviser to President Jonathan (Media and Publicity), Mr. Reuben Abati, in a statement, said the video is 'that of the unfortunate incident that occurred in Bama on May 7, and has no connection with the current operation.'

He said: 'If anything, the victims shown in the video were those the Boko Haram attacked before they launched an offensive on Bama prison.'

Abati also said that claim that the man in uniform shown in the video is a Nigerian soldier cannot be sustained, 'because in a war-like theater, anybody could have been clad in a military fatigue; and we have seen Boko Haram members appear in military fatigues in their propaganda videos. Besides, no soldier has left the frontlines since the beginning of the operations.'

Describing the report as 'irresponsible', Abati said the government views 'with grave concern' attempt by sections of the media, especially the foreign media to mislead the general public and the international community about the State of Emergency and military operations in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States.

He said: 'For the avoidance of doubt, the declaration of a state of emergency and the consequential security operations are meant to protect the civilian population and the territory from the macabre and dastardly assault on the Nigerian state by insurgents and terrorists. It is not an operation against innocent citizens as Al-Jazeera and others are suggesting.

'In executing this sovereign objective, President Jonathan explicitly directed that the operations be conducted in line with applicable rules of engagement and peculiar care in managing a unique situation. In an earlier statement, he had also made it clear to the military high command and received assurances that those who violate their operational orders will be disciplined accordingly.

'In line with this regard for the rights of the civilian population, President Jonathan had ordered the release of women and under-age persons in protective custody, and made arrangements for their immediate rehabilitation. Fifty-eight persons in this category have been released. The Armed Forces have also secured the release of six women and children in Boko Haram captivity.

'There is nothing to suggest, so far, any violation of operational orders by the troops operating in the North East. Their intervention has received popular support, among the civilian populace, and within two weeks of operation, the possibility of calm and normalcy resonates even as enclaves of terrorists are raided and their capacity to continue their reign of terror heavily compromised. This is a process and the government owes it to the people of the North East to see it through.'

'We reaffirm the Government of Nigeria's commitment to and belief in the professionalism of the Nigerian Military, an institution that has served with distinction on many occasions across the region and outside. We deplore the effort to encourage terrorists through unverified and inaccurate reporting, and the desperation to blackmail the current peace and security process.'