Reuters, a global news organization, has accused the Nigerian Army of implementing a scheme where female Boko Haram/Islamic State victims in a West African province were subjected to forced abortions.
According to the investigation, the Army performed the abortions against the patients’ will and at least 10,000 pregnancies were illegally aborted.
These were covered in a study that was released on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.
Reuters reported that the investigation was based on the statements of 33 victims, hospital employees; as well as security personnel as well as documents acquired.
The report partly read; “Since at least 2013, the Nigerian Army has run a secret, systematic, and illegal abortion programme in the country’s northeast; terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls; many of whom had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants; according to dozens of witness accounts and documentation reviewed by Reuters.
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“The abortions were mostly carried out without the person’s consent—and often without their prior knowledge; according to the witness accounts. The women and girls ranged in age from a few weeks to eight months pregnant. Some were as young as 12 years old, interviews and records showed.
“This investigation is based on interviews with 33 women and girls who say they underwent abortions while in the custody of the Nigerian Army. Only one person stated that she freely consented. Reporters also interviewed five civilian healthcare workers and nine security personnel involved in the programme; including soldiers and other government employees such as armed guards engaged in escorting pregnant women to abortion sites. In addition, Reuters reviewed copies of military documents and civilian hospital records describing or tallying thousands of abortion procedures.”
Women who resisted were allegedly assaulted, caned, detained at gunpoint, or drugged into submission; according to a guard and a health worker quoted in the article.
The study connected the abortion program to a widely held military and among some citizens in the northeast belief that insurgents’ offspring are destined to take up arms against the Nigerian government and society due to the blood in their veins.
Days after it was released, the military refuted the infanticide claims, accusing the news organization of being “wicked.”
The Defence Headquarters described the report as false and concocted by Reuters. This was contained in a statement issued by the Director of Defence Information; Major General Jimmy Akpor, adding that the news agency team behind the story is “cruel.”
He stated that children were among the 82,064 Boko Haram terrorists that surrendered to troops, adding that none of them was eliminated.
The statement partly read, “It took Reuters 13 solid years to craft an allegation of infanticide against the Nigerian military and the Nigerian nation. This shows that a news agency as “renowned” as Reuters is itself complicit in failing in its mandate to draw attention to and inform the public about supposed occurrences that violate not only the laws of armed conflict but also international humanitarian law.
“Let us analyse the period from July 2021 to November 2022. A total of 82,064 Boko Haram fighters and family members have surrendered to Operation Hadin Kai troops. Out of this number, 16,553 were active male fighters, 24,446 were women, and 41,065 were children. The Borno State Government is camping and accommodating them family-by-family, as per households; without having to separate the children from their parents.
“In the same camp are thousands of pregnant women and nursing mothers. A total of 262 babies were born within 4 months (94 in July, 98 in August, 60 in September, and 11 in October 2022). This figure comprises 150 female and 112 male children. The children were neither aborted nor yanked from their mothers.
“Wickedness really runs in the veins of some people, and it surely runs deep in the veins of the Reuters team that concocted such evil for interrogation.”