Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, has denied allegations of a massacre in Baga village, Borno State.
Abati, who was speaking in an interview with SaharaTV on Saturday, accused Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the media of playing politics by distorting the facts on the reported 180 – 200 deaths recorded in the clash between the military and suspected members of Boko Haram in the remote town near the Chad border.
“The position of the government is that there was no massacre in Baga. Two, the reports by investigators also made it clear that the Boko Haram terrorists were the ones who set houses on fire, and the ones who have turned Baga into an enclave within the Nigerian State. And to the extent that that is true means that the terrorists are determined to violate the sovereignty of Nigeria,” Abati said.
He insisted that the figures being bandied around remained largely unsubstantiated just as he declared the FG’s readiness to allow international agencies to come and investigate the incident.
“Whoever wants to come and investigate is welcome. But what we expect is that people will be truthful, and that they will not play politics, or set out to work to a predetermined formula or answer, as seems to be the case at the moment,” he added.
The president’s spokesman, who confirmed that he had seen the satellite images of the incident being circulated by HRW, described them as ‘questionable.’
He said, “I have seen the satellite images that are being circulated. But you know those satellite images are questionable. You know that satellite imagery is determined by a lot of variables: weather condition, the quality of equipment, the resolution, the distance, the all of that.
“And the military authorities have made it very clear that the Nigerian authorities have also carried out their own satellite imagery using Nigeria’s tools. And the evidence that they have is clearly different from the evidence that the Human Rights Watch is talking about.”