Alleged war crime: Amnesty Int'l report aims to blackmail Nigerian Military - DHQ

By The Citizen

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Wednesday in Abuja said the report by Amnesty International that accused some senior Nigerian military officers, serving and retired, of war crimes, was intended to blackmail the Nigerian Military.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade.

Olukolade said the Defence Headquarters had noted with dismay the gruesome allegations made by the Amnesty International against some senior military officers, serving and retired, of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

He said it was unfortunate that all efforts made in the allegation were geared toward continuation of blackmail against the military hierarchy.

According to him, Amnesty International had embarked upon the blackmail as far back as the inception of the military's action against terrorists in the North-East.

He said the officers mentioned in the report had no reason, whatsoever, to indulge in the allegation made against them.

Olukolade said it was unfortunate that the organisation just went out to gather names of specified senior officers, in a calculated attempt to rubbish their reputation as well as the image of the military.

'The action, no doubt, depicts more of a premeditated indictment aimed at discrediting the country for whatever purpose.

'Each of the previous allegations had been thoroughly responded to and cleared in the public and officially.

'The title, down to the body of the allegation smacks of the extreme bias, which is disturbing, coming from an otherwise reputable organisation that is expected to be Just and fair to all.

'Unfortunately in this case, it has taken a premeditated position, which is far from noble,' the defence spokesman said.

He also said it was curious that a body that had never been able to seriously condemn terror in Nigeria now claimed to have done an extensive research with the aim of discrediting the nation's effort at curtailing terror.

'It is clear that Amnesty International (AI) becomes more active in presenting distractive allegations whenever the terrorists are losing ground in the battle.

'It is very unfortunate that Amnesty International has used this report to further confirm its questionable interest in the counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria,' he said.

Olukolade recalled that the Joint Investigation Team was set up by the Defence Headquarters as part and parcel of efforts to ensure that no detainee suffered unjustly.

He said the detention facilities were thrown open for visits and inspections by independent bodies such as International Committee of the Red Cross and other reputable international organisations and personalities.

He advised Amnesty International to stop playing the role of an irritant coming up loudly only when the terrorists were losing out and remaining silent or complacent whenever the terrorists heightens their atrocities.

Olukolade said it was unfair to persist in effort to discredit Nigerian military by seeking all avenues to stigmatise individual officers of the nation's military.

He lamented that the stigimatisation was purely to satisfy an agenda against the security agencies and image of Nigeria before the international community.

He said the Nigerian Armed Forces were quite conscious of the fact that the operation had prompted the need to save citizens from abuse of their rights by mindless terrorists.

'Accordingly, the forces have continued to state and restate its commitment to the rights of Nigerians and all its citizens while prosecuting its anti-terrorism campaign.

'It is very unfortunate that Amnesty International has chosen to ignore all the responses and clarifications provided to its enquiries by the authorities.

'It is unfair to rely on records or reports provided by certain disgruntled elements or faceless collaborators who have axe to grind with the system as evidence against officers

'Who have been conscientiously doing our duty to defend the nation and its citizens,' Olukolade said.

He said the Nigerian Military did not encourage or condone abuse of human rights, neither would any proven case be left unpunished.

He said the kind of impunity being alleged by Amnesty International had no place in the Nigerian Military.

According to him, every officer in the field is responsible for his action and is duly held accountable.

He said so far, no allegation had been sufficiently proved against those whom Amnesty International was so desperate to convict.

He noted that the statistics were largely spurious or manipulated to satisfy a clandestine motive.

He said the loud publicity given to these damning allegations suggested an intention to blackmail the military, 'and particular, senior officers rather than a sincere advise to the government. This cruel tendency is not new, despite the timing.

'The Nigerian military therefore rejects the biased and concocted report provided by Amnesty International.

'Additional definite response will be provided subsequently as deemed necessary,' Olukolade said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Amnesty International on Wednesday in Abuja accused some senior serving and retired Nigerian military officers of war crimes and called for investigation. (NAN)