Nigerian military authorities on Friday dismissed the report published by the New York Times, alleging atrocities being committed by the special troops against ‘innocent civilians’ in the areas where emergency rule is being enforced.
President Goodluck Jonathan recently declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Consequently, there has been huge troop’s movement to the areas so as to contain the activities of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, that have claimed responsibility for series of terrorist attacks in the north.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig Gen Chris Olukolade described the report titled “In Nigeria, ‘Killing People Without Asking Who they Are” as a deliberate attempt to paint the Nigerian military in bad light and ridicule the institution.
“The Defence Headquarters has noted the report published in the New York Times with the title “In Nigeria, ‘Killing People Without Asking Who they Are”. The New York Times report dwelling on what it described as “atrocities being committed by the Nigerian military against innocent civilians”, sought to create in the minds of its reader’s an imaginary refugee situation in the area.
“It quoted non-existent people, painted a picture of an army that cannot distinguish between the enemy and unarmed civilians; an army that turns its guns against the same people it is out to protect. This is certainly not the Nigerian Armed Forces, and there is no killing of civilians in the on-going operation as New York Times desperately sought to portray, the spokesman stated.
Olukolade also said that the claims remain half-truths, unsubstantiated and outright misrepresentations, saying the report “strived in futility to demonize the ongoing operation in the Northeast, all with the intention of bringing to disrepute, the character and professionalism of the Nigerian military and security agencies.
“Apart from the reference to its series of usually faceless sources, there is so far no reasonable evidence of the allegations so zealously presented by the New York Times. “There is indeed no basis for such situation neither has there been any credible report from responsible quarters in Nigeria”.
The Defence spokesman also debunked claim that “Nigerian refugees are pouring into Niger Republic despite the unambiguous rebuttal by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Borno State Government,” saying it was another pointer “to the deliberate misrepresentation of facts by New York Times and its allies in the social media”.
Olukolade insisted that NEMA and the State Government concerned “have already addressed this issue in their separate statements on 28 May 2013 published in the Daily Trust of 29 May and other media outlets in Nigeria.
“Indeed, if the foreign media, propelled by whatever ulterior motive, have resolved to whip up resentment against our institutions, it is certainly not incumbent on any of our local media organizations in Nigeria to offer its platform for the orchestration of such mischief”.
He therefore, alerted “Nigerians particularly our local media about this unfortunate tendency and trend in the foreign media”, urging the local media “to remain patriotic as they have demonstrated in their coverage of the operation so far is again reiterated please”.