The report, which was released on Friday revealed how the military and Civilian JTF separated women from their husbands and confined them to “satellite camps” where they were raped sometimes in exchange of food. Amnesty in its report highlighted how scores of women described how soldiers and Civilian JTF members used force and threats to rape them including taking advantage of hunger to coerce them to become their “girlfriends” which involved being available for sex regularly.
In its reaction, however, the Defence headquarters described the report as fictitious and malicious noting that “this malicious trend by AI is becoming a frequent ritual and it is rather unfortunate”.
A statement signed by Brigadier General John Agim, Acting Director of Defence Information said, “In times like this, Amnesty International is expected to apply the natural law of liaison by working with security agencies as partners. This would have been the best way to ensure that insurgency and crisis is completely wiped off rather than engaging in falsehood, maligning the military and painting her in a bad light at any slight opportunity.
“The Nigerian Military wishes to use this medium to reiterate her commitment to the citizens of our dear nation, that it will abide by all Human Rights Regulations as entered into by Nigeria and also go the extra mile in ensuring that the territorial integrity of our nation is well protected.
“However, the Nigerian Military admonishes AI to desist from cooking reports from time to time to demoralize the entire military system and the nation as a whole whose troops are sacrificing their lives in the fight against Boko Haram and other enemies of the country.
“These false reports which are capable of derailing the good work being done by our patriotic and selfless soldiers must stop. “Kindly note that we are not in any way implying that AI should not do their job, but such must be done with a level of integrity and credibility by seeking clarification when the need arises.
“This way a lot will be achieved as both will form partners in the fight against extremism and other vices. The Defence Headquarters, therefore, urge all law-abiding citizens to continue to trust and support the military in the ongoing war against Boko Haram and go about their normal lawful business.”
The Amnesty International in its report quoted the victims as saying they were coerced into becoming “girlfriends” of security officials to save themselves from starvation. According to the report, “most of these women has already lost children or other relatives due to lack of food, water and healthcare in the camp. The sexual exploitation continues at an alarming level as women remain desperate to access sufficient food and livelihood opportunities”, adding that women reported they were too afraid to reject demands for sex.
Several human right groups which reacted to the report urged the Federal Government to investigate the allegations. Comrade Ayodele Akele of Campaign for Human Right said, “the report is authentic. Amnesty International has a long credible record we cannot pretend about. It’s a fact that we no longer have the military we used to know. There is no difference between them and the police in Nigeria and it’s so unfortunate and pathetic that our president is not doing anything about it”.
In his own reaction, Awwal Ibrahim-Rafsanjani, Executive Director of CISLAC said. “This report coming from Amnesty International confirms the reports from various civil society organizations and the National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria which expressed concern over human rights abuses and denial of rights in the IDPs”.
Similarly, Olalekan Dada, Executive Director, Nigeria Action for Youths said “Amnesty International report exposed what had been happening in the country”, and expressed the hope that rather than defend the military, the government would examine the report holistically to prevent future occurrences”.