Defence boss urges NHRC to launch independent investigation over Reuters allegation

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Following the allegation of illegal abortion against the Nigerian military by Reuters, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor has called on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to launch independent investigation.

Irabor made the call when he led principal staff officers of the Defence Headquarters on visit to the Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu on Friday in Abuja.

Reuters News Agency has recently alleged in a report that, since 2013, Nigeria’s military had run a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country’s North East terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.

While making the request, Irabor said the allegation by Reuters was baseless and false, adding that the military had nothing to hide hence the need for an independent investigation to exonerate itself.

He said there was need for the commission to carry out such investigation as required the responsibilities entrusted into the establishment by law.

According to him, the armed forces as an establishment of the Federal Republic is an armed forces that is a creation of the Nigerian constitution that has its rules of engagement based on extant laws both local and international, including international humanitarian laws and laws of armed conflicts that have been domesticated in Nigeria.

“And recognizing the place of the national Human Rights Commission and ensuring that all the activities of government and all its citizens and of course, inhabitants, including friends of Nigeria who are within our space conduct their affairs in line with the laws of the land.

“In recent times, there have been reports which alluded that the armed forces is involved in government program of abortions in the northeast of Nigeria from 2013.

“And that report was published by Reuters and of course when we looked at it, we felt this is certainly not us and it does not indeed represent the professional standing of the armed forces of Nigeria.

“Where we have footprints of operations in line with the dictates of the constitution and so at first we felt that perhaps there are some extra territorial powers that want to weaken the strength of the armed forces being at the forefront of the current engagements that seeks to bring peace to our land.

“And so some actions need to be taken but of course, being bound by law, being guided by laws, we’ve taken a look and we felt that the right establishment that should undertake investigation is the national Human Rights Commission.

“So it is in that light that I have come to formally inform you if perhaps you are not thinking about it that we as an armed force stand ready for any establishment, and I think in this case, the NHRC stands a good ground to carry out an investigation,” he said.

Irabor assured the commission that the military would grant it an unfettered access to all its establishments across the across the country.

He also gave assurance that the personnel of the armed forces would be available to answer questions in the course of the investigation.

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