Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian military and Amnesty International (AI)are at loggerheads over alleged threats and smear campaign.
AI said it has been the subject of threats and smear campaigns by the military since May 24 when it released a report, “They Betrayed Us,” which documented the prevalence of sexual violence against starving women and girls in satellite camps which are under the control of Nigerian soldiers and militia.
But, AI Director in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, has vowed that they will not be deterred from defending human rights in the country.
In a statement by its Media Manager, Isa Sanusi, given to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, AI insisted it always share findings of its investigations with the military before publication, requesting for its inputs but, “they either completely ignore these attempts to engage, or referred us to other arms of government, in a clear attempt to evade our questions.
“The Nigerian military is increasingly resorting to threats, intimidation and smears to discredit Amnesty International’s work documenting the human rights violations it has committed. On 24 May 2018, the organization released a report, “They Betrayed Us”, which documented the prevalence of sexual violence against starving women and girls detained in satellite camps under the control of Nigerian soldiers and militia.
“The Nigerian military responded by organising smear campaigns and issuing threats to “take action against Amnesty International.
“Rather than taking action to address the issues raised in this report, like investigating countless allegations of rape and other war crimes, the Nigerian military has fallen back on its usual hostile tactics of denials and threats,” said Ojigho.
Amnesty International has also released reports on the multiple, horrific cases of abuse carried out by Boko Haram and human rights violations by the Nigeria Police Force.
Regardless, the Nigerian Armed Forces have dismissed AI’s claims.
Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim, who debunked the allegation said AI seems to be running away from its shadow as the military has never and will never reduce itself to begin to issue threats to any person or group of persons; no matter the level of provocation.
In his reaction to AI’s allegation, Agim challenged the international organisation to the state where, when and how the threat was issued to them.
He told Daily Sun, yesterday, that it is a known fact that AI has always communicated to the military through the media, with its series of allegations, instead of putting them in writing.
“Did they say we wrote a letter to them or we sent somebody?
“Those people are being pursued by their wickedness, not the military because we don’t have anything to do with them at all”
“We have never had any contact with AI.
“They don’t write to us so, where is this threat allegation coming from?
“In fact, they hold their press briefings and we respond through the media; we have never had any contact with AI
“So, the threat, did they read it on the pages of newspapers because they refused to deal with us?
“They prefer to hold international press conferences and tell lies against the military and we respond through the same international press conferences.
“We don’t have anything to do with them. We don’t have any contact with them.
“I don’t even know the person who is behind AI or where the person comes from
“Ask them if they ever have spoken to us. Have we ever written to them?
“We talk to the media just as they are writing to the media, so, where is the threat coming from?
“They have never contacted us in their write-ups and we, too, don’t contact them. We are talking in the media space. If they have done something wrong, they should be afraid.” (The Sun)