Reuters Report: Detainees from new marte, kukawa and monguno deny knowledge of mass abortion
By Sani Gazas Chinade, Damaturu
As part of its fact-finding mission, members of the Secretariat of the Special Independent Investigation Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter Insurgency Operation in the North East visited Giwa Barracks for the second time, in its quest to live no stone unturned in unraveling the truth about the allegation contained in the three-part report indicting the Nigerian Military, which was released by Reuters in December 2022.
It would be recalled that the 7-man panel of experts Chaired by justice Abdu Aboki rtd was at the Giwa Barracks in March where it interrogated the key officials of the detention center including conducting the tour of the facility to see things for themselves.
The follow-up visit by members of the panel secretariat was aimed at interviewing some of the detainees from New Marte, Kukawa, and Monguno. All three locations were mentioned in the Reuters report.
Concerning the allegation contained in the report, the detainees interviewed said that they did not witness the massive killing of children or other forms of assaults on women allegedly perpetrated by the Nigerian soldiers in the North East.
However, one of the detainees and a native of Ala in New Marte, told the visiting NHRC team led by the State Coordinator, Jumai Mishele that soldiers attacked his village and killed his grandfather, Alhaji Awanana and the rest of them fled to other communities for safety. He said the soldiers came in a convoy of vehicles in the company of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) during the purported attack.
According to the 25-year-old detainee, before soldiers allegedly attacked and burnt his village, they (soldiers) were dislodged by the insurgents and when they recovered the village, they sacked the whole people in the area killing many of them in the process.
It is only Abubakar who said he witnessed the attack on his village by soldiers after the team interviewed over 10 detainees at Giwa Barracks.
Meanwhile, the Commander of Joint Investigation Centre (JIC), Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri, Lieutenant Colonel A.U. Ahmed has harped on the need to intensify the non-kinetic approach to addressing the problem of insurgency in the North East, saying the Borno model should be replicated in other states where the insurgency is rearing its ugly head.
LT. Colonel Ahmed who stated this when he received members of the Secretariat of the SIIP -NE observed that several talents and brains are being wasted in Prisons and other detention centres across Nigeria.
According to the JIC Commander, counseling and supporting the detainees, whether awaiting trial or convicted persons with skills and knowledge will ensure that their brains are not idle but engaged in meaningful and productive ventures.
On his part, he disclosed that when he discovered that most of the detainees are skilled and talented in various areas such as cap making, tailoring, author mechanic, electrical, etc, he encouraged them by buying the needed machines and materials as well as persuading them to train more inmates in these areas.
The senior military Officer disclosed that he has made some arrangements to ensure that these talented persons in detention reap the full benefit of their skill and labour while passing through the legal procedures before their release or prosecution as the case may be.
He asserted that the North East alone has a prison population that could feed the whole population of Northern Nigeria if given the necessary encouragement and support.
The panel which is Chaired by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd) was set up by the National Human Rights Commission in February this year following Reuters’ allegation of systematic, illegal, and secret abortion of pregnancies, the massacre of children, and other forms of Gender Based Violence against the Nigerian military.
The Commander, therefore, regretted the humongous amount of money expended by the federal government and other benefactors in feeding detainees in various detention centres, as well as the infrastructural and social services implications therein.