FG rebukes Reuters, says its dangerous to accuse military of conducting illegal abortions without evidence

The federal government on Monday said any unproven allegation against the Nigerian army is dangerous.

Nigeria’s information minister, Lai Mohammed, stated this while speaking to reporters in reaction to Reuter’s investigation on alleged forced abortion for Boko Haram victims.

The Nigerian military, according to Reuters, was said to have conducted a secret abortion programme in the country’s north-east, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among victims of insurgency.

But responding to the report on Monday, the minister said the report is a strategy to set the world against Nigeria and cut off the support that is critical to crushing terrorists.

Mohammed said Reuters made the allegation without evidence, citing only anonymous sources and the reported review of phantom “documents”.

“The agency claimed that its investigation was based on interviews with 33 women and girls,” Lai said.

“How do they use interview with 33 women and girls to arrive at the bogus claim of 10,000 abortions?

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“And in a further indication that the figure of abortions quoted was arbitrary or possibly conjured, the agency first put the figure at 12,000 before settling for 10,000,” he said.

He reiterated the federal government’s position that there was no “secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme” being run by the military in the country.

The minister also queried the basis for the investigation at a time the military is recording successes, decimating the terrorists, and rescuing abducted persons.

According to him, in 2022 alone, the Nigerian military rescued 11 Chibok girls and 2,018 other persons.

He said 82,645 persons — comprising 16,621 male fighters, 24,638 women, and 41,386 children — have surrendered.

Mohammed said the military has also neutralised 494 terrorists, excluding those killed through airstrikes and infighting.

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“Why is this news agency not playing up this positive news but instead chose to give prominence to a phantom abortion story?” he asked.

Lai said the federal government has given its military a clean bill of health over the allegations.

“We know that military operations in the north-east are not arbitrary but based on the military’s standard operating procedure (SOP) and rules of engagement (ROE), among others,” he added.

“Where any proven infraction or criminal act has been committed by any soldier, the law has always taken its course.

“But it is beyond the pale and downright dangerous to accuse a nation’s military, without any verifiable evidence, of massive illegal abortions and infanticide.”

Lucky Irabor, the chief of defence staff, last week also dismissed the report, describing it as “outright nonsense”.

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