The Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has accused Amnesty International of targeting the Nigerian military in support of terrorists.
A report emerged recently from Amnesty International alleging the employment of unlawful tactics of razing down villages and unlawful detention of locals by troops.
But the Defence Headquarters described the report as yet another falsehood by the human rights watchdog in a campaign of calumny targeting the Nigerian Military.
It said the report was deliberately supporting the callous acts of terrorism perpetrated by Boko Haram Terrorists and the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).
This was contained in a statement to DAILY POST on Friday, signed by Brigadier General, Onyema Nwachukwu, Acting Director of Defence Information.
It added, “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 in line with the AI’s usual mannerisms 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.”
The DHQ explained that the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole who are conducting Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency Operations in the North East do not employ arson as an operational tactic.
It said that it is a known fact, going by the method of operation of the Boko Haram terrorists 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,” it added.
It said that Amnesty International must understand the fact that Nigeria is at war against terrorism in the North East and that the troops have a constitutional mandate to protect lives and property, even if it means conducting an evacuation to save and secure the lives of civilians in the conflict.
DHQ added that “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 an offensive on terrorist 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 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.”
DHQ, therefore, called on AI to 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 North East.
It further called on members of the public to please discountenance Amnesty International’s report, as it is not a true and realistic reflection of troops’ counter-terrorism operations in the North East.