The Coalition of Civil Society Group, COCSG, has described the recent report by the Amnesty International that indicted top serving and retired Nigerian military chiefs of gross human rights violations in the fight against Boko Haram, as lopsided and lacking in basic facts.
The President, COCSG, Etuk Williams, who stated this on Tuesday, when his group paid a solidarity visit to the Defence Headquarters IN Abuja, explained that their own analysis and assessment indicated that the report is devoid of truth and aimed at discrediting the military’s onslaught against terrorism.
Drawing analogy with the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, when Nigeria was abandoned to its fate, Williams said the same scenario was playing out in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
Williams said, “It is on this sacred fact that the COSG after critical and painstaking analysis of the report of AI based on available facts arising from an on-the-spot assessment in the war against terrorism unequivocally declare that the report is devoid of truth and only aimed at discrediting the giant strides achieved so far by the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency in the North East.
“We reject in totality the report of AI, indicting notable officers of the Nigerian Armed forces for war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram in the North East between March, 2011 and 2014. “This report has been found to be lopsided, lacking in basic facts and bereft of fundamental understanding of how the war against insurgency has been fought and almost won in Nigeria”.
According to Williams, the group’s investigations and independent assessment of the war on terror in Nigeria were at variance with the report of AI, stressing that instead, the activities of the military have helped to save thousands of lives, taken back lost territories and restored hope to people held bound under the draconian clutches of Boko Haram.
“The war that the world left us alone to fight is almost won to the dismay of many who want to discredit the efforts of the military in order to shift the attention of the world from a once impossible task that has now been made possible through the heroics of men and women who should be celebrated”, he said.
In his response, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, said the military would not be distracted by the report, but would continue with the ongoing offensive to rout Boko Haram from any part of Nigerian territory.
Badeh admitted that while there might have been few cases of collateral damage, he deplored the fact that these incidences were described as murder or murderous acts, against the global standard practice.
He said, “Your armed forces have been very busy trying to save Nigeria so that we can remain an indivisible unit. Your armed forces fought in the 1960s to keep Nigeria as one and it’s the same armed forces that are fighting today to keep Nigeria as one. It has not changed, it’s still the same military.
“Yes, we might have killed civilians unknowingly and it happens all over the world, the only difference is that their own they call it collateral damage and ours they call it murder”.
Badeh said he welcomed Federal Government’s plan to investigate the allegations, stressing that the military would not be deterred in its efforts to keep Nigeria one.
“There is no amount of distraction that will keep us from what we are doing to defeat Boko Haram and preserve the country’s territorial integrity”, he stated.