The Defence Headquarters, on Friday, said it has identified another false report by Amnesty International (AI), in what it called a campaign of calumny, targeting the Nigerian military and deliberately supporting the callous acts of terrorism perpetuated by Boko Haram terrorists and Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).
A statement by Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, Director Defence Information, said the AI campaign is contained in a recent report, alleging employment of unlawful tactics of razing down villages and unlawful detention of locals by troops.
AI had released a report during the week, accusing the Nigerian military fighting the jihadi groups in the North-East, of setting villages ablaze to frame the terrorists.
However, the military has hit back at the international Non-Governmental Organisation, saying it lacks knowledge of what is going on in the region.
“This is line with the AI 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 is 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 hide outs.
“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.
“AI must, therefore, put an end to its reckless distortion of facts in its desperate bid to satisfy its puppeteers by undermining Nigerian Military campaign against terrorism in the NE.
“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,” the statement said.
It is not the first time the military is accusing AI of supporting the terrorist groups.
In 2019, the military had asked the body to leave Nigeria, over what it said was not a true reflection of the fight against terrorism in the country.