MILITARY ATTACKS AMNESTY OVER DAPCHI ACCUSATIONS

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The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has accused Amnesty International (AI) of undermining efforts at ending the ongoing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism war in the North-East. In its reaction to claims by AI, that the military received phone calls hours before the attack on Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, the DHQ challenged the global watchdog to come clean on its allegation, which it described as false. “For the avoidance of doubts, no security force was informed of Dapchi schoolgirls’ abduction as alleged by AI.

 

The Nigerian public and the international community should know that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is a professional military and has attained the highest form of professionalism in line with international best practices. “And so, it could not have ignored warnings of Boko Haram attack only to work tirelessly to get the girls back,” Acting Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. John Agim, said in a statement yesterday.

This was as the Nigeria Police also debunked claims that it ran away when the suspected terrorist elements struck. The Boko Haram terrorists had, on February 19, abducted 110 girls from Dapchi after the attack on the school.

 

Amnesty had, on Monday, revealed that Nigerian security forces got advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters was heading towards Dapchi, where 110 schoolgirls were abducted by terrorists on February 19. In a report on the incident, Amnesty said that at least five calls were made to security forces between 2p.m. and 6:30p.m. on that fateful day, warning them that the armed group was on the way to Dapchi.

According to the report, the first call was made to the Nigeria Army Command in Geidam, 54km from Dapchi, informing them that Boko Haram fighters had been seen at Futchimiram heading to Gumsa, a village about 30km from Dapchi.

 

The global human rights watchdog lamented that in spite of the several distress calls, the Nigerian military neither took effective measures to stop the abduction nor made serious efforts to rescue the girls after they were taken by Boko Haram fighters. “The sighting of an armed convoy at Futchimiram immediately sparked several phone calls to alert authorities.

 

Sources who informed the military commander in Geidam at 2p.m. report that he responded to them by saying he was aware of the situation and was monitoring it,” the report said. Amnesty added that a police source in Dapchi said that on sighting the terrorists, police officers fled because they feared that the Boko Haram fighters would overpower them. But the military questioned the motive of AI, insisting that the global body had consistently demonstrated hatred for the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

To buttress his position, Agim said AI had released similar reports in January and February, wherein it cast doubt on the gains of the military. It, therefore, concluded that the organisation was undertaking a campaign of calumny against the State. “Amnesty International always brings out damming reports about the Nigerian Military at strategic points. They did that in the previous administration and the United States invoked the Leahy Law against Nigeria at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency. “Within this year, Amnesty International issued reports against the military in January 2018, February 2018 and now March 2018.

 

The question is; what is the motive of the AI?” Agim asked. The DDI drew parallels with what happened during the last administration, saying the latest campaign was aimed at scuttling the latest cooperation between the United States and the Federal Government, on supply of arms to clear remnants of Boko Haram. “The question is; what is the motive of the AI?

 

The answer is simple; President Donald Trump of the United States of America has agreed to collaborate with the current government of Nigeria to end insurgency in the North-East and AI wants to do everything within its powers to make sure that the US-Nigeria anti-terrorism cooperation does not succeed in accordance with their paymasters’ design. “The question Amnesty International has not answered satisfactorily is; which of the security forces and what unit was informed that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters were heading towards Dapchi where they abducted Dapchi school girls? What was the telephone numbers used to inform the Military or the Police?

“Why has AI refused to communicate its findings with the Federal Government’s Committee set up to investigate what happened before, during and after Dapchi girls’ abduction? Is AI trying to undermine the outcome of this committee?

The answer is simple; AI is not ready to contribute towards finding a so- lution to our problems, if anything, they are ready to complicate the problems,” Agim said. According to the Defence spokesman, “Within the military and amongst well-meaning Nigerians at home and in diaspora, we know that AI is an organ established to embark on orchestrated campaign of calumny against the Nigerian Military and undermine its laudable achievements against Boko Haram.

 

“Unfounded and inaccurate reports such as this by AI is completely unacceptable, and only exist in the figment of AI’s imaginations and should be discountenanced by wellmeaning Nigerians and foreign friendly nations. “For avoidance of doubt, the Armed Forces of Nigeria is more than ever, poised to bring the activities of Boko Haram terrorists to a complete end and no amount of discouraging fabrications by the AI will deter the military from achieving its constitutionally assigned responsibilities.

 

“The defence of our national territorial integrity is our utmost goal and, as such, the Armed Forces, in conjunction with sister security agencies, will continue to strive towards entrenching peace in the North-East and indeed every part of this great nation.” Agim continued: “Apart from questioning the motive of Amnesty International, it is pertinent to state that most of their narratives are outright falsehood and a calculated attempt to whip up sentiments and mislead unsuspecting Nigerians, demoralise friendly nations and people collaborating with security forces to end the forces of evil in the North- East.

 

Meanwhile, the Yobe State Police Command has said it did not abdicate its responsibility on the day of the attack. A statement by the Command’s Commissioner of Police, read: “The attention of the Yobe State Police Command has been drawn to the publication in New Telegraphof 20/03/2018 on issue of the Dapchi attack that the Police were informed hours before the attack on Dapchi town on 19/02/2018. “The assertion is nothing but a mere speculation on its time frame as it is completely not correct. “Furthermore, the insinuation that the Police ran away is not true as the only near fatal casualty was a policeman wounded and now recuperating in the hospital.

 

“The Yobe State Police Command will continue to cooperate with other security agencies in ensuring safety and protection of lives and property of people of Yobe State.”

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