MAIDUGURI- The new Theatre Commander of “Operation Hadin Kai’’ in the northeast, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Ali, on Monday debunked Reuters News Agency’s report that the military had been engaging in rights abuses.
A three-part report by Reuters accused the military of conducting about 10,000 illegal abortions on women rescued from Boko Haram insurgents and conducted mass killings of children and other gender-based violence.
Gen. Ali was testifying in Maiduguri at the resumed hearing of a special independent investigative panel on rights violations in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast.
The seven-man panel resumed sittings in Maiduguri after a four-week break for the general election.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) set up the seven-member panel under the chairmanship of retired Justice Abdu Aboki to investigate the Reuters allegations.
Gen. Ali who served as Sector 2 Commander in Damaturu during the period under review, said he was not aware of any such abuses anywhere in the war theatre.
He stressed that if any such abuses took place, there was no way that they could have been hidden from the military authorities and from the public.
“It is not possible for such things to happen,’’ he said.
He noted that when he assumed duty as Sector 2 Commander in Damaturu, there were women, including the wife of Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, held in custody at the Government Lodge in Damaturu.
The women and their children and were properly taken care of, he told the panel of inquiry.
The theatre commander also told the panel about how soldiers in the northeast had been rescuing women and children from insurgents’ enclaves during operations.
He expressed surprise and disappointment that the Reuters news agency was accusing the military of a deliberate policy to exterminate family members of insurgents.
Gen. Ali stressed that the army never targeted children unless the children Reuters was talking about were child-soldiers the insurgents used sometimes to engage the military in combat. (NAN)