NHRC to probe Nigerian military for alleged secret abortion programme

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on Tuesday, inaugurated a panel to investigate the allegations of secret abortion programme executed by the Nigerian military in the North-east.

An international media outlet, Reuters, had in a three-part investigative story published in December 2022, alleged that the Nigerian military discreetly aborted at least 10,000 pregnancies of freed captives of Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s North-eastern states over the years.

According to Reuters, many of the pregnancies resulted from rape of the kidnapped women and girls by Boko Haram fighters.

The federal government and the Nigerian military denied the allegations. But the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a probe.

At a brief swearing in ceremony at the headquarters of the NHRC in Abuja, on Tuesday, the commission’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, urged the panel “to investigate and unravel the truth behind these allegations and ensure that justice is done in all appropriate cases.”

Mr Ojukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the NHRC invoked its statutory powers to constitute the special independent investigative panel.

The panel is called ‘Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in the Implementation of Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East (SIIP-North East).’

Soliciting the cooperation of state governments, the Nigerian military, the United Nations system, and other interest groups, Mr Ojukwu said “to protect human rights and ensure accountability for violations is a sacred duty which all of us as the human family have a mission to uphold.”

Atiku-Okowa AD

Terms of reference

The NHRC boss said the panel drew its membership from professional backgrounds relating to the allegations contained in the report.

They include: law and human rights, medicine and psychology, military intelligence and humanitarian affairs

Mr Ojukwu said the panel’s terms of reference include, “Investigate allegations of gross violations of national and international human rights laws/principles alleged against the Nigerian Armed Forces in the three reports by Reuters.”

He added that the panel would “receive memorandum from individuals and organisations with interest in the subject matter of the mandate of the SIIP North-East, especially human rights, security and humanitarian organisations working in the North-East.

Kogi AD

TEXEM Advert

“Make appropriate determinations as to culpability of individuals or institutions as may be deemed necessary in each circumstance. (Section 5(j) of the NHRC Act 2010).

“Make determination as to the damages or compensation payable in relation to any violation of human rights where it deems this necessary in the circumstances of the case (sec. 6(e) of the NHRC Act, 2010).

“Refer any matter of human rights violations requiring prosecution to the Attorney General of the Federation or of a State, as the case may be. (Section 5(p) of the NHRC Act, 2010).”

Dangote adbanner 728x90_2 (1)

Mr Ojukwu noted that the panel will “Make recommendations to government on:

(a) Institutional, Policy and Regulatory measures to be taken to integrate human rights principles and practices into military and counter-insurgency operations.

“Propose Remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of military personnel in counter-insurgency operations.”

‘Human rights, accountability, remedies for violations are cardinal principle of democracy’

Abdu Aboki, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, who chairs the panel, said safeguarding human rights and remedies for breaches remain key principles of every democratic society.

Mr Aboki spoke shortly after the inauguration of the panel on Tuesday.

He said human rights violations by any person or institutions “should be treated with all sense of justice and accountability.”

The retired jurist pledged the panel’s commitment “to abide by the rules of natural justice.”

“We will be fair and just to all manner of persons who appear before us as victims, witness, respondent, officers, counsel and citizens.”

Mr Aboki reiterated the panel’s mandate promising “to do substantial justice devoid of technicalities.”

Apart from Mr Aboki, who is the chair of the panel, other members include: Kemi Okonyedo, representing Women Rights Organisation; Azubuike Nwankenta, representing the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and Letam Wiwa, a retired major general (Military Law and Intelligence Expert).

The rest are: Maisaratu Bakari (Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology); Modibbo Adama (University Teaching Hospital Yola), Fatima Akilu (Humanitarian Expert, representing Civil Society), and Halima Nuradeen (Psychologist, representing youths).

Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.


TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999

PT Mag Campaign AD


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.