Country Director of Amnesty International (AI), Osai Ojigho, has said its report detailing how security forces rape and starve Boko Haram victims was based strictly on eyewitness accounts.
The global rights group had reported “how the Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) have separated women from their husbands and confined them in remote ‘satellite camps’ where they have been raped, sometimes in exchange for food.”
The report sparked controversy, with many Nigerians calling for the head of the international agency.
Reacting, however, Ojigho said anytime a report was released, the first reaction of the military would be to defend the institution rather than look into the issues raised.
“We go on mission to these areas, we meet with the victims themselves. In total, we had 250 interviews. Forty-eight of those interviews were with women who had recently been released from Giwa Barracks and it is an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.
“It was based on eyewitness and personal account. Three of those women were at our report launch today (yesterday); to share their experiences so that they could put a human face to the story.
“These women exist, they are not fictitious, they are not trying to tell a story they have not experienced; it is their personal story,” she added.
Ojigho also said its findings were not new, and recalled that the National Human Rights Commission, in its 2015 report, “highlighted that there is already pervasive sexual exploitation going on in the camps.
“They are seeing it more like an image issue, rather than a rights issue. So, that was why their first reaction was to say ‘no, we are the good guys, we are not doing anything wrong.’
“By taking that position, they missed the point that Amnesty International is trying to make; which is that certain things have happened, people feel aggrieved because these things have happened. Unfortunately, fingers are pointing to you as the military. In this particular case, soldiers and Civilian JTF because those are the people who have perpetrated this crime. So, it means that you, as an institution, need to sit down and fish out the bag eggs within the institution. I think they are missing the point.”