The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has denied Amnesty International’s allegation of arresting, detaining and torturing children in its custody.
In its 91-page report titled “‘We dried our tears’: Addressing the toll on children of Northeast Nigeria’s conflict”, Amnesty International said it conducted interviews between November 2019 and April 2020 with more than 230 people affected by the conflict, including 119 who were children when they suffered serious crimes by Boko Haram, the Nigerian military, or both. They said 48 children were held in military detention for months or years alongside 22 adults.
Major General John Enenche, the Coordinator of Defence Media Operations in his response to the allegation accused the international humanitarian agency of undermining the success and efforts of the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency.
“Why is it that every time we are recording success, they will come up with their report?
“All the allegations are all lies. None is true. Patriotic Nigerians are already reacting. To say that we are touring children is ridiculous. We are party to the international convention on war.
“How about the people, the women and children we have rescued and vaccinated?. The purpose is to discourage those who are supporting us”.
The Defence spokesperson also affirmed that there is no scheduled date to end the decade-old war against insurgency in the North-east.
“There is no time that there will not be casualty. I cannot say but that the casualty figure will be reduced, yes.
“There is no mathematical end to the war. The Bible says the heart of man is desperately wicked. We will get there. I assure Nigerians that the situation would be normalised.”
Also commenting on the crisis in the northeast, Enenche noted there are fears of armed bandits escaping from states where troops are currently conducting various operations. He said proactive measures were in place to handle such occurrences and further revealed that air assets had been deployed to cover Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states.