Repentant Boko Haram insurgents exonerate military of rights abuses

Repentant Boko Haram insurgents on Tuesday in Maiduguri dismissed Reuters news agency’s reports of rights abuses by the military in the northeast.

Reuters had reported in a three-part series that troops of “Operation Hadin Kai’’ in the northeast conducted illegal abortions on 10,000 women and massacred children of insurgents.

The repentant insurgents testified before a Special Independent Investigative Panel on Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations put in place by the National Human Rights Commission to verify the Reuters report.

The three who testified when the panel, chaired by retired Justice Abdu Aboki visited their camp in Maiduguri were Kaka Mala, Goni Musa and Mohammed Adam.

Mala told the panel that his brief was to fight and to teach captured women about the Holy Quran.

He said that during his association with Boko Haram, he never heard of military’s engagement in mass abortion or execution of children fathered by insurgents.

In his testimony, Musa who has four wives and 10 children, said the Reuters report was baseless.

He said the report that the army was aborting pregnancies or killing children could not be proven as his wives and children were all safe and alive.

In his testimony, Adam said he operated within Sambisa Forest and never witnessed any massacre of children by the military except for an incident at Giwa Barracks where some children died because of over-crowding.

Earlier, Borno Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, told the panel that the high rate of pregnancies among women living with their returnee husbands in the camp had been disturbing.

She said the situation posed challenge to the babies whose birth spacing is very short.

Gambo stressed that taking care of the babies in the camps puts pressure on the state government in terms of care and support for them and for their weary nursing mothers. (NAN)

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