The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has responded to the allegation that troops deployed in the North East razed some villages in Borno State.
The Acting Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, dismissed the claim by Amnesty International in an interview with Channels Television on Friday.
Rather, he accused the human rights group of frustrating the effort of the military in restoring peace to the troubled region.
The DHQ spokesman warned Amnesty International to stop what he described as “its reckless distortion of facts in its desperate bid to satisfy its puppeteers.”
According to him, Nigeria is at war against terrorism but the group is undermining the campaign by the military against insurgency in the region.
Earlier, Amnesty International that security forces set villages on fire and displaced residents of the affected villagers in response to escalation in attacks by Boko Haram insurgents recently.
It said its facts were drawn from interviews with affected villagers and satellite data analysis, but the military accused the group of targeting troops to support terrorists.
Read the full statement issued below:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL TARGETING NIGERIAN MILITARY IN SUPPORT OF TERRORISTS
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has taken cognizance of yet another falsified report by Amnesty International (AI) in a campaign of calumny targeting the Nigerian Military and deliberately supporting the callous acts of terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).
This inglorious campaign is contained in a recent report alleging the employment of unlawful tactics of razing down villages and unlawful detention of locals by troops.
This is line with the AI’s usual mannerism and tenacious efforts aimed at disparaging the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).
The Defence Headquarters wishes to state unambiguously that the allegations being touted by AI are nothing but a betrayal of its lack of in-depth knowledge of the goings-on in the North East (NE) theatre of operation.
It is expedient to state that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole who are conducting Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Operations in the NE do not employ arson as an operational tactic.
It is a well-known fact, going by the modus operandi of BHTs, that they have more often than not engaged in the atrocious acts of looting and burning of villages, as well as destroying infrastructures.
It, therefore, beats one’s imagination that AI is attributing these atrocities to AFN troops who are legitimately defending the country guided by extant rules of engagement and operational codes of conduct.
AI must understand the fact that Nigeria is at war against terrorism in the NE and that the troops have a constitutional mandate to protect lives and property, even if it means conducting an evacuation to save and secure lives of civilians in the conflict.
Protecting civilians by evacuating them from the line of fire during combat is not a violation of the international law of conflict or a war crime.
It is rather a commendable effort by the troops to prevent collateral damage during combat.
Our troops should, therefore, be commended for making deliberate efforts to evacuate civilians in order to protect their lives and property.
It is also crucial to point out, that troops deployed to fight terrorism in the NE do not attack or raze down villages, communities or settlements, rather they launch offensive on terrorists’ camps, enclaves and hideouts.
Based on actionable intelligence, persons who provide logistics and other forms of support to the terrorists are arrested and subjected to a thorough investigation by a combined team of professionals drawn from the intelligence community of the Armed Forces and other security agencies.
Anyone not found culpable is not held in custody for further investigations.
AI must, therefore, put an end to its reckless distortion of facts in its desperate bid to satisfy its puppeteers by undermining Nigeria’s Military campaign against terrorism in the NE.
We urge members of the public to please discountenance AI’s report, as it is not a true and realistic reflection of troops’ counter-terrorism operation in the NE.
Acting Director, Defence Information