From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The Africa Centre for Human Rights and Protection has condemned the report by Reuters accusing the Nigerian Army of running an abortion programme in the war against Boko Haram in North East Nigeria.
According to the group, the report lacked the basics of objectivity in news reportage because it read like tales by moonlight and was probably a product of desk research without substance.
At a press conference on Friday, the organisation said the recent accusations that the Nigerian Army had forcefully terminated pregnancies of women who were victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in North East Nigeria, is an insult to Nigeria as a country and its people.
The convener, Dr Fabian Nyiakula said that after an extensive analysis of the report, it has come the conclusion that Reuters has run out of ideas in castigating the Nigerian Army in its customary fashion. It accused the international news agency of exhibiting gross ignorance of the role of the Nigerian Army in prosecuting the war against Boko Haram terrorists in North East Nigeria.
Reuters had, in its report, claimed that it interviewed 33 women and girls who were in the custody of the Nigerian Army in Borno State. But the group noted that this is not only a defective sample size to draw such a hasty conclusion from, but further shows the mischief of the news agency.
It added: “The Nigerian Army does not detain women and children victims of the Boko Haram onslaught. Instead, it is a known fact that upon rescuing women and children from Boko Haram camps, these women and children are availed of medical assistance in designated and recognized health facilities, not detention camps, as erroneously claimed by Reuters.
“The puerile attempt by Reuters to paint the Nigerian Army in a bad light must have stemmed from the recent gains recorded in the prosecution of the war against terrorism, which by all indications is not appreciated by the promoters of Reuters
“The report also corroborates the position of several organisations and individuals on the role of France in fueling the Boko Haram conflict in the North East region. For Reuters to assume that the abortion programme has been in operation since 2013 indicates that Reuters has elected to be clever by half.
“The implication of the action Reuters is that this imagined abortion programme went unnoticed by the hundreds of non-governmental organisations working in North East Nigeria, including reputable United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organisations that have assisted in significant measures in assisting victims of Boko Haram brutality on unarmed civilians.
“Reuters contradicted itself when it alluded that “Aspects of the Nigerian Army’s abortion programme remain murky. Because of the secrecy involved, it is impossible to know precisely how many abortions were done. Interviews and documents suggest the count could be significantly higher than the tally of at least 10,000 cases that Reuters was able to establish.
“The question thus is how Reuters arrived at such a conclusion when it claimed that the report was based on 33 women and girls interviewed. This defeats common sense hence why the report should be discarded in its entirety for lacking in substance, but propaganda aimed at distracting the Nigerian Army in the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram terrorists in North East Nigeria.”
It advised members of the unsuspecting general public to view the report with a pinch of salt as there is more than meets the eye.