A former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen Abdulwahab Eyitayo, on Tuesday said that allegations of systemic abortions reported by Reuters against the Army in the North East was highly malicious.
Eyitayo said when he was testifying before the independent investigative panel set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate allegations made against the military in their North East counter Insurgency.
The general, told the panel that he was on duty tour to the North-East three times.
” The Reuters allegations were meant to tarnish the image of the military in the North East region tackling Boko Haram insurgents.
“For someone to have made such allegations against the military is highly malicious.
”We are there (North-East) to tackle Boko Haram” he said.
He further told the panel that rather than aborting pregnancies for women and girls in the North-East, the military took special care of rescued pregnant women and girls,.
Some of the rescued pregnant women, he said, delivered in the military hospital.
He informed the panel that he served in the sub-region as Colonel logistics, Chief of Staff to the GOC, 7 Division and eventually as GOC of the Division.
“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have any information about any systemic abortions (by the military).
“For the whole period I served as GOC, there was no report to that effect,” he told the panel.
Eyitayo said though, as the GOC, he held some media briefings, he had nothing with Reuters.
According to him, as the GOC, the commander of the 7 Division Medical Hospital and Services, which he described as a friendly facility, always briefed him on happenings in the hospital.
He added that what the hospital does for the people never got to the point of getting negative reports even when they conducted medical outreaches.
Earlier, a former Brigade Commander, 22 Brigade in Dikwa/Marte in Yobe and former theater commander in Maiduguri, Col Yakubu Ibrahim said the report was laughable.
He told the panel that he laughed when he heard about the Reuters allegations of illegal 10,000 abortions, declaring that such never happened.
“When I heard of it, I just laughed. That never happened. It was even unethical. I never heard of it until the (Reuters) publications.”
Yakubu said troops under him assisted communities in the four local government areas under his command with foods .
He added they carried out medical outreaches during Nigeria Army Days, which he said were conducted in the open as part of the army social corporate responsibility to the people.
He said drugs used for medical outreaches were supplied to the army by the Yobe Ministry of Health.
Yakubu also said the allegations of abduction of boys, invasions of homes and mass killings made by Reuters did not happen when he was at New Marte.
”When we captured insurgents planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices), we treated them fairly and handed them over to the headquarters for further actions.
” The army is made up of professionals and knew the rules of engagement. The Reuters allegations were very malicious” he said .
The NHRC inaugurated the panel on Feb. 8, following the allegations of gross human rights violations contained in the three-part report published in December 2022 on military operations in the north east by media group Reuters hence the panel.
The international media organisation had alleged that the military was involved in massacre of children as well as other Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the North East.