The Brigade Commander 28 task force Chibok,Brigadier General Meyidi Markus Gurala has proclaimed that it was not possible to link soldiers to any form of abortion assaults against women and girls or mass killing of children because most of the communities had fled following their dislodgement by the insurgents “before our military operations started”.
General Gurala stated that the situation on ground in his Command in Adamawa state particularly between 2013 and 2014 made various localities flee to more developed and safer places like Mubi where Boko Haram insurgents did not dislodge.
The one-star General who stated this in his oral testimony before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East posited that since the locals had deserted their communities, it is illogical to say that soldiers had anything to do with women or children let alone aborting pregnancies or killing children as alleged in Reuters’ report.
General Gurala maintained that although the Nigerian military among other statutory responsibilities provided social services and ensure the protection of citizens, “It is not responsible to the extent of determining that women or girls should not keep and maintain their children or pregnancies because they are associated with Boko Haram fighters”.
“By the way we operate, it is impracticable for the Nigerian Army to take a position that does not belong to it and act based on that”, he added.
While referring to Reuters allegations of soldiers terminating 10,000 pregnancies and massively killing children on the basis that they are associated with Boko Haram members, he said that the military was aware that most of the returnees including men and women were coerced into the insurgency and therefore could not have been maltreated or assaulted by the Armed Forces.
According to the Brigadier General apart from neutralizing Boko Haram fighters who engage soldiers in the frontline they cannot afford to kill or maltreat returnees and that surrendered Boko Haram fighter or those captured alive are handed over to the appropriate military authority for the intelligence experts to determine whether to send them to Operation Safe Corridor or to prosecute them in accordance the law.
He affirmed that military personnel are trained to respect the International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws and that the Nigerian Army which according to him is not a “Rag-Tag Army” has remained professional “even when we are in combat operations.
Asked by the general counsel/secretary of the panel, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna if his command conducted medical services on women and children, he said they normally refer cases to Teaching Hospital or Brigade Hospital in Yola, Adamawa state, while taking others including women, girls and children to camps manned by the state government.
He further informed the 7-Memberpanel Chaired by a retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Abdu Aboki that “the medical reception centre under his care at that time did not conduct any labour or abortion services even as he disclosed that there was a case of one woman that delivered her baby in the midnight and that before the delivery, they quickly called a female birth attendant for assistance and it was successfully handled and we handed them over to state government.