Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday accused the Nigeria military of blackmail and intimidation but vowed that no amount of threat from the military will deter it from doing its work in Nigeria.
The organisation said it has come under increasing pressure and threats from vested interests following the release last month of a damning report which documented the prevalence of sexual violence against starving women and girls at internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in the north east.
But in a statement made available to news organisations in the country, Isa Sanusi, AI’s spokesperson, said the military responded to its report by organising smear campaigns and threats.
AI, however, said that such threats are attempts to discredit the organisation from documenting the human rights violations committed by soldiers.
The statement read, “These diversionary tactics are a shameless attempt to avoid investigating the accounts of human rights violations which have been presented by Amnesty. The statements by the Nigerian military clearly show that they have not read our reports.
“Rather than taking action to address the issues raised in this report, like investigating countless allegations of rape and other war crimes, the Nigerian military has fallen back on its usual hostile tactics of denials and threats.”
“We ask detailed questions to ensure the military can provide its side of the story, but in all cases, the military has either completely ignored these attempts to engage, or referred us to other arms of government, in a clear attempt to evade our questions,” the statement read.
“The decision by the Senate of the national assembly to probe allegations raised in ‘They Betrayed Us’ as a welcome development, and a sign of hope for victims seeking justice.
“The diversionary tactics are a shameless attempt to avoid investigating the accounts of human rights violations which have been presented by Amnesty. The statements by the Nigerian military clearly show that they have not read our reports.
“For example, while our recent report was based on remote satellite camps in places like Bama and Banki, the military took journalists to the wrong camps in Maiduguri in their attempts to prove us wrong.
“Amnesty International is a human rights organization and not a prosecuting agency – its role is to hold governments to their obligations to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure that anyone whose rights are violated has an effective remedy.
“That is why the organization continues to call on the Nigerian government to use its authority and resources to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and abuses, including of rape, torture, arbitrary detentions and unlawful killings, to ensure reparation for the victims, to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to ensure non-repetition of the violations.
“Despite the military’s best efforts, we will not stay silent. In the face of efforts to evade responsibility or to smear our organization, we will continue to raise our voices whenever and wherever we see injustice, sexual abuse, discrimination against women, or any other violations of human rights in Nigeria.”