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Army wants Amnesty’s offices closed as report blames military over killings

By Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos), Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)
18 December 2018   |   4:17 am
The Nigerian Army has called for the closure of the Amnesty International (AI) offices in Nigeria, alleging there is credible evidence the organisation is working hard to destroy the country.

Troops in the north east

• Presidency accuses AI of killing soldiers’ morale
•Security agents kill four terrorists in Borno State

The Nigerian Army has called for the closure of the Amnesty International (AI) offices in Nigeria, alleging there is credible evidence the organisation is working hard to destroy the country.

In a statement yesterday, Brigadier- General Sani Usman alleged that Amnesty had deviated from the core values, principles and objectives of the outfit. He said the army arrived at the conclusion due to Al’s alleged fabrication of allegations of human rights abuses against the Nigerian security forces.

The brigadier general also alleged Amnesty engaged in clandestine sponsorship of dissident groups to make unfounded allegations against the military.

“They have tried over the years using Boko Haram terrorists’ conflicts, Islamic Movement in Nigeria, some activists and now herders-farmers conflicts. The NGO is on the verge of releasing yet another concocted report against the military, ostensibly against the Nigerian Army.

“Consequently, Nigerians should be wary of Amnesty International (Nigeria) because its goals are to destabilise Nigeria and to dismember it. The Nigerian Army has no option than to call for the closure of AI’s offices in Nigeria, if such recklessness continues.”

The army’s statement came a few hours after Amnesty yesterday alleged that failure by the Nigerian authorities to investigate communal clashes and bring perpetrators to justice fuelled bloody escalation in the conflict between farmers and herders across the country.

The conflict has resulted in at least 3,641 deaths in the past three years and the displacement of thousands more, the report stated.

In the report titled, “Harvest of Death: Three Years of Bloody Clashes Between Farmers and Herders”, Amnesty found that 57 per cent of the 3,641 recorded deaths occurred in 2018.

It said security forces were often positioned close to the attacks, which lasted hours and sometimes days, yet were slow to act. In some cases, security forces had prior warning of an imminent raid but did nothing to stop or prevent the killings, looting and burning of homes.

“The Nigerian government has displayed what can only be described as gross incompetence and has failed in its duty to protect the lives of its population and end the intensifying conflict between herders and farmers. The authorities’ lethargy has allowed impunity to flourish and the killings to spread to many parts of the country, inflicting greater suffering on communities who already live in constant fear of the next attack,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

In its reaction, the presidency accused Amnesty of taking deliberate actions capable of killing the morale of the officers and men of the Nigerian military as the troops prosecute the war against Boko Haram.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government was increasingly becoming concerned on the role being played by the human rights watchdog in the crisis faced by Nigeria, especially in the North East region.

“While Buhari cherishes and encourages the noble ideals on which institutions like Amnesty International are founded, the organisation’s operations in Nigeria seem geared towards damaging the morale of the Nigerian military,” he added.

Meanwhile, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole at the weekend killed four terrorists and recovered arms and ammunition at Maibukarti village in
Borno State.

The Boko Haram insurgents attacked the village at about 5pm, before they were repelled into the north fringe of Sambisa Forest.

Brig-Gen. Usman disclosed this yesterday in another statement released to journalists in Maiduguri.

He said the terrorists were neutralised when they were engaged by ground troops and a helicopter gunship in the evening along Maiduguri-Damboa road.

“Unfortunately, one soldier paid the supreme price during the encounter with the terrorists.”