“Where any proven infraction or criminal act has been committed by any soldier, the law has always taken its course.” – Lai Mohammed
The federal government on Monday dismissed the story released by Reuters that the Nigerian Military conducted secret abortions for victims of Boko Haram attack.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed described the allegation as ”baseless” and challenged Reuters to come forward with and evidence to substantiate its claims, adding that spreading unfounded claims without any thread of evidence is dangerous.
Recall that Reuters had accused the military of carrying out a secret mass abortion on victims of terrorist attacks in the north-east.
The news agency claimed that the Nigerian Army since 2013 has carried out secret abortions in the Northeast. The investigation carried out by Reuters stated that at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls were terminated.
The report further stated that pregnant victims who resisted were either beaten or drugged into compliance. But Mohammed in a response on behalf of the government said the allegation by Reuters is based on a review of some phantom documents and an interview with just 33 women and girls. “The agency claimed that its investigation was based on interviews with 33 women and girls,” Lai queried.
“How do they use interview with 33 women and girls to arrive at the bogus claim of 10,000 abortions?
”And in a further indication that the figure of abortions quoted was arbitrary or possibly conjured, the agency first put the figure at 12,000 before settling for 10,000,” he said.
Mohammed maintained that the Nigerian Military’s operations are guided by international best practices and acceptable rules of engagement.
The Minister submitted that there was no “secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme” being run by the military in the country.”
He wondered why Reuters is fixated on playing up the negatives and turn a blind eyes on the positives. He said that in 2022 alone, the Nigerian military had rescued 11 Chibok girls and 2,018 other persons.
He added that 82,645 persons — comprising 16,621 male fighters, 24,638 women, and 41,386 children have surrendered to the Military. Mohammed added that the military has also neutralised 494 terrorists, excluding those killed through airstrikes and infighting, wondering why the agency is not reporting such positive achievements but chose to focus on untrue rumours.
In his words, “Why is this news agency not playing up this positive news but instead chose to give prominence to a phantom abortion story?”
“We know that military operations in the north-east are not arbitrary but based on the military’s standard operating procedure (SOP) and rules of engagement (ROE), among others.
“Where any proven infraction or criminal act has been committed by any soldier, the law has always taken its course.
“But it is beyond the pale and downright dangerous to accuse a nation’s military, without any verifiable evidence, of massive illegal abortions and infanticide.”