THE Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lucky Irabor, has again debunked Reuters’ claim against the Nigerian military that it carried out forceful abortions on civilians in the Northeast.
Irabor also declared that human rights violations allegations against the military were unfounded.
The CDS spoke on Friday, May 12, before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) investigative panel on rights violations in counter-insurgency operations by the military in the Northeast.
The NHRC inaugurated the panel on February 8, 2023, following allegations of gross human rights violations in the three-part report that Reuters published in December 2022 on military operations in the Northeast.
“The allegations came as a rude shock to me. It is a rude shock to me that someone could orchestrate such a report.
“There are strange allusions; if they say we want to stop the regeneration of Boko Haram children, on what grounds?” he asked.
Irabor claimed that the military was not responsible for the stigmatisation of the women who bore children by Boko Haram insurgents.
On Reuters’ claim that some officers it spoke to confirmed the abortion, Irabor said such officers should be brought before the panel.
“Who are the officers? I will give them immunity to come and testify before the panel on what they have alleged,” he stated.
He explained to the panel that the Nigerian Army operated hierarchically, contrary to what Reuters said.
He claimed he had never witnessed any strange allusion to the arrangement within the armed forces.
“The military facility under my control is open. There is nothing secretive going on there. Whoever will disparage the men and women of the armed forces who have put their lives in the forefront is doing a damage,” Irabor said.
The ICIR had reported in December 2022 that an investigation by Reuters indicted the Nigerian Army for carrying out illegal abortions on pregnant victims of terrorism in the Northeast.
According to the report, the Nigerian military was running a secret programme that ended at least 10,000 pregnancies without consent from women kidnapped, raped or forcefully married to terrorists in the Northeast.
The victims, including those as young as 12, were said to have been deceived into taking pills and injections that ended their pregnancies under the false assurance that the medication was to restore their health.
“In some instances, women who resisted were beaten, caned, held at gunpoint or drugged into compliance. Others were tied or pinned down as abortion drugs were inserted into them,” the report said.
Reuters noted that the abortions by the Army were carried out in many military and civilian facilities in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa.
The Nigerian Army has consistently refuted allegations that it forcefully aborted about 10,000 pregnancies in the Northeast.
Irabor had earlier, in March 2023, denied the claims made in the report, describing them as “nonsense and untrue.”