Amnesty Accuses Nigerian Army of Detaining Girls Freed from Boko Haram, Military Denies Allegation 

Amnesty Accuses Nigerian Army of Detaining Girls Freed from Boko Haram, Military Denies Allegation 

Amnesty International on Monday accused the Nigerian army of illegally detaining girls and young women who have escaped from Boko Haram captivity under the suspicion that they hold allegiance to Boko Haram insurgency.

The military in a statement however denied the allegations, which the human rights group said were based on 126 interviews from 2019 to 2024 with female former captives.

According to the Amnesty report, 31 interviewees said they were unlawfully held in military barracks for several days and some as much as four years between 2015 and mid-2023, because of their real or perceived association to Boko Haram.

The military has been involved in armed battle with the non-state actor Boko Haram for over a decade in the nation’s Northeast, an uprising which the U.N. said has claimed more than 35,000 people.

Along the line, the insurgency have had hundreds of girls abducted, with some fleeing back from hostage and few others returned after bargain with the federal government.

The Nigerian government has failed to uphold their human rights obligations to protect and adequately support these girls and young women,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa, in the report.

The Defence Headquarters responding to the allegations made by Amnesty International in its recent report, during a conference on Monday categorically denied the allegations and reaffirmed its commitment to upholding international humanitarian law and human rights principles.

Major General Edward Buba, Director Defence Media Operations disclosed this in a statement on Monday, noting that the military operates within the bounds of the law of armed conflict and has a robust military justice system to address any proven cases of misconduct.

He was: “Accordingly, the AFN (Armed Forces of Nigeria) is hereby making it unequivocally clear that, it is a professional force that operates within the ambit of international law of armed conflict as well as adheres to the humanitarian law and principles governing human rights.”

He said the military encourages organisatiins like Amnesty International to substantiate their allegations through established channels, rather than resorting to public statements.

He added: “It is for this reason that, there are standing court martials to treat any form of misbehaviour by erring personnel especially those that portray the military negatively to the general populace.”

According to him, under the leadership of General Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence Staff, the AFN has a zero-tolerance policy for indiscipline and improper conduct. Standing court martials are in place to address any form of misbehavior by erring personnel, ensuring that the military maintains its professionalism and integrity.

General Buba noted that the military remains focused on its objective of defeating terrorism and will not be deterred by self-serving statements aimed at dampening the morale of troops in operational theatres.

He said the AFN will engage constructively with Amnesty International and continue to conduct operations diligently to protect the nation.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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