The Defence Headquarters has told Amnesty International 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.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, made this known on Friday in Abuja.
Nwachukwu said: “We urge members of the public to please discountenance AI report as it is not a true and realistic reflection of troops’ counter terrorism operation in the NE.”
He accused AI of targeting Nigerian Military in support of Boko Haram/Islamic State of West African Province terrorists.
Nwachukwu described the recent report by AI alleging employment of unlawful tactics of razing down villages and unlawful detention of locals by troops as false.
According to Nwachukwu: “This allegation is line with the AI’s usual mannerism and tenacious efforts aimed at disparaging the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“The Defence Headquarters wishes to state unambiguously that the allegations being touted by AI is nothing but a betrayal of its lack of in-depth knowledge of the goings on in the North East 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 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 ones 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.”
Nwachukwu said that AI should understand the fact that Nigeria was at war against terrorism in the NE.
He added that the troops had a constitutional mandate to protect lives and property, even if it meant conducting an evacuation to save and secure lives of civilians in the conflict.
According to him, 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.
He said: “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 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.”