Amnesty International (AI) and the Defence Headquarters are in disagreement regarding the alleged maltreatment of female victims of Boko Haram terrorists.

AI had, in its recently released report, accused the Nigerian military of detaining and mistreating female survivors of Boko Haram.

However, the Defence Headquarters, defended the Armed Forces of Nigeria, stating that they operate professionally and in accordance with international laws governing armed conflict.

According to AI’s report titled ‘Help us build our lives: Girl survivors of Boko Haram and military abuses in North East,’ the military has allegedly held women and girls, some as young as 12, in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without providing them with medical care or legal representation.

The women, many of whom were abducted by the terrorists and forced into marriages or sexual slavery, are reportedly being detained by the army under suspicion of being affiliated with the terrorist group, as claimed by AI.

The executive summary of the report states, “Amnesty International’s report is based on 126 interviews with girls and young women who were associated with Boko Haram.”

The report thoroughly examines the violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by both Boko Haram and the Nigerian authorities, including the military.

It sheds light on the unique experiences of girls and young women who were coerced into marriage, subjected to sexual violence, and forced into domestic servitude.

Many of them were unlawfully detained by the Nigerian military in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, with no access to medical care or legal representation.

“The Nigerian government has failed to re-integrate these girls and young women, denying them access to justice, education, livelihood opportunities and adequate health services.

The Borno State government’s ‘Borno Model’ for reintegration has been inadequate, and girls and young women have been largely invisible to government authorities during the screening process,” the AI noted in its report.

Responding to AI’s claims in a separate statement obtained by newsmen, the DHQ said the Armed Forces of Nigeria operates within the ambit of international law stressing that the incumbent Chief of Defence Staff has zero tolerance for any form of improper conduct during operations across the country.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to allegations labelled against the Armed Forces of Nigeria by the Amnesty International Report launched during a Press Conference in Abuja on June 10, 2024.

Accordingly, the AFN is hereby making it unequivocally clear that, it is a professional force that operates within the ambit of international law of armed conflict as well as adheres to the humanitarian law and principles governing human rights.

The AFN elects not to join words with such organisations, rather would encourage them to approach the military high command to substantiate their allegations. The military has self regulating mechanisms within the military justice system to address any proven case.

“It is worthy of note to state that, the AFN led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, has zero tolerance for indiscipline and any form of improper conduct during operations across the country.”

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