By OKOSUN DENNIS
Amnesty International, a human rights group, was criticised on Wednesday by the Defence Headquarters over a report alleging that the Nigerian military killed 240 people in Borno and 177 pro-Biafran protesters in the east.
Condemning the damning allegation by Amnesty in Abuja, the Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar described Amnesty’s allegations as “another in its series of spurious fabrications aimed at tarnishing the good image of the Nigerian military.”
Rabe said the allegations contained in the said report are not only inconceivable but has no place in the Nigerian military.
Gen Abubakar claimed that the report was contrived lies orchestrated to blackmail and ridicule the Nigerian Armed Forces which they have unsuccessfully tried to do in the past.
“It is on record that Amnesty International embarked on such series of false allegations against the Nigerian military and other security forces as far back as the inception of the military action against terrorists in the North East.
“Amnesty International would only encourage activities of non-state actors who take up arms against the state, killing, maiming and destroying public property but would always accuse security forces who are sacrificing everything to restore peace and normalcy.
“In as much as the Nigerian military acknowledges and respects the views and constructive criticism of individuals, groups or even international organisations including Amnesty International, it will not fall for nor accept the deliberate falsehood that have no bearing with the fact or reality on ground.
“The truth is that the Nigerian military has always been open in its operations and do not hide its activities from the probing eye of the public. Amnesty International chose to bandy fabricated reports and concocted stories instead of seeking clarifications from the relevant authorities.
Defence Headquarters reiterated that as far as its operation is concerned in the northeast and other parts of the country, it would run “an open door policy in terms of information on its activities in the north east or elsewhere and is ever ready to provide clarifications on any issue.
On a number of times the National Human Rights Commission had sent its delegation to seek clarification on issues they are not comfortable with, Gen Abubakar said.
“The DHQ always obliges them with the information they sought. AI would rather contrive their report to suit their intention which is to cast slur on the image and integrity of the Nigerian military.
Describing their action as “smacking of mischief for the AI to insist on publishing unverified and unsubstantiated report,” he added that it is only AI that knows why they embark on such dishonourable venture over a period of time.
He further stated that the Nigerian military rejects this AI reports in its entirety and appeals to all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard the report and discountenance its contents as they were meant to paint Nigeria in bad light.