· As other Officials Debunk Reuters Report
By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Borno state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo has said that introducing family planning to women and girls rescued from the frontline by the Nigerian Military will frighten the vulnerable group who initially were apprehensive of government intention towards them.
The Commissioner who disclosed this at Hajj camp when she received the Chairman and Members of the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East, observed that trusting the government programmes to give them a better life was a serious challenge in the beginning, thus telling them about family planning will be strange.
She, however, stated that the high frequency of pregnancies among the women and girls who are living with their returnee husbands in the camp has been a disturbing issue since some of these women hardly nurse their babies for up to four months before getting pregnant again.
According to her, such a scenario poses a challenge to the babies whose birth spacing is very short, and taking care of these babies puts more pressure on the government in terms of care and support as well as wearies the nursing mothers in the camp.
The state Executive Council Member recalled how the women expressed their anger at her while trying to talk to them about family planning, resulting in some of them making unsuccessful attempts to leave the camp.
“It is therefore not what we can achieve in a hurry because we need to continue to support them so that they will have more trust and confidence in the state government and other humanitarian actors first and in future, we can gradually convince them on the usefulness of the family planning programme”, she added.
In a related development, other state officials testify before the 7-Member panel presided over by a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Abdu Aboki saying that they take the handling of detainees under their care seriously.
The Head of Hajj camp clinic, Nurse Mohammed Saleh who conducted members of the panel round the facility said that they take care of delivery services at the clinic and refer complex cases to Specialists Hospital or UNTH for better medical services.
Similarly, another Nurse in the facility, Kellu Dauda told the panel that although they administer oxytocin and misoprostol to women on medical advice, the clinic does not use these drugs to conduct illegal or secret abortions as alleged by Reuters report against the Nigerian military.
In his testimony, Mustapha Mohammed Kukawa ,Senior Special Assistant on Security Affairs in the state said that he did not witness any deliberate abuse or violence against women or children in the camp. He spoke on behalf of his Principal who is the Special Adviser to the state Government on Security Affairs, General Abdullahi Ishaq.
The statement of these state officials at the Hajj camp corroborated that of their colleague at Bulumkutu camp who denied any unprofessional conduct at the medical facilities.
A Senior Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW) at Bulumkutu camp, Mohammed Abubakar said “I started working here around 2019 till date and whenever they bring new arrivals, we screen them for HIV/AIDS, malaria, because we act as a primary health care facility and we do not perform illegal abortions.