Our reporter| The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor on Friday invited the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate allegations that the Armed Forces are behind a secret abortion programme in the North East.
Irabor made the request when he led some senior military officers to the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja.
“In recent times, there have been reports which alluded that the armed forces are involved in a government programme of abortions in the North-East of Nigeria from 2013 till date,” he said.
“That report was published by Reuters and of course, when we looked at it, we felt, ‘This is certainly not us, and it does not indeed represent the professional standing of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“‘It does not also indicate the DNA of our operational engagements not just in North-East of Nigeria, but across the length and breadth of this country where we have footprints of operations in line with the duties of the constitution.’”
The defence chief stated that the military, being guided by law, saw it fit to submit itself to the NHRC as the appropriate establishment to undertake investigations of alleged human rights violations.
Addressing the commission, Irabor said, “The NHRC stands a good ground to carry out such an investigation and if that would be what you decide to do, I wish to use this opportunity to assure you that we grant you unfettered access to our establishments across not just the North-East but across the country.”
Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Anthony Ojukwu, in his address, explained that in keeping with international standards, such an investigation has to be public, open, transparent, and comply with the principle of fair hearing and accountability.
“Your request today is in line with the determination of the commission to investigate the allegations because of the human rights implications.
“Accordingly, your visit and request has coincided with the resolve of the commission to investigation in the Reuters report because of the human rights implications in the report.
“As you may be aware, the investigation process of the commission must meet the international human rights standards required for this kind of investigation,” he said.