The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has garbaged a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) which alleged that children are arbitrarily detained in detention facilities in the North-East.
In a 50-page report released on Tuesday, the controversial New York-based non-governmental organization portrayed the Nigerian military as the villain in the fight against insurgency despite obvious intensifying efforts to ensure lasting peace in the region.
The poorly-documented piece has sparked outrage among Nigerians, especially those in the know about the gallant troops’ exploits in the last four years.
In a press conference held in Abuja on Tuesday, CESJET through its Executive Secretary, Comrade Ikpa Isaac, joined other Nigerians in condemning what it described as “blackmail” based on “unfounded allegations”.
The Centre threw up three questions HRW failed to answer in it’s supposed in-depth report.
CESJET wondered the rationale behind the timing of the piece when Boko Haram and its various iterations are struggling to justify all the funds received from sponsors as they are rarely in the news these days.
The Centre also questioned HRW’s mission for lumping together detention units with rehabilitation programmes marks while missing to acknowledge the roles of indigenous groups to improve the conditions in the area.
CESJET, however, urged compatriots and the rest of the world to join in trashing the Human Rights Watch’s report into a garbage bin as that is where it rightfully belongs.
Read full statement below:
We expect that you would have by now had access to and read the latest addition to the world’s collection of fictions by Human Rights Watch, which was appropriately titled “They Didn’t Know if I Was Alive or Dead”. The 50 page report is anchored on unfounded allegations that the Nigerian military is detaining underage Boko Haram fighters.
Several factors are interesting about this report but we shall limit ourselves to a few of them because there is the inherent danger of unnecessarily promoting a work of fiction and elevating it into the realm of fact in the course of highlighting its shortcomings to the populace.
The first thing we want to draw attention to is the timing of the report, which is coming at a time when Boko Haram and its various iterations are struggling to justify to their sponsors the merit of receiving continuous funding because they no longer make the news in any impressive or profound way. This in part explains why the terrorist group is desperate in attacking military formations so that it can continue to lay claims to exploit and consequently the allowances and remittances it is being owed by those propping it up against the Nigerians state.
This strategy of shopping for incriminating anecdotal concoctions against the Nigerian military is a strategy that Amnesty International, a leading antagonist of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and key supporter of terrorists in the country, had repeatedly deployed without success. It is disappointing that Human Rights Watch is now replicating the same strategy without modification after Amnesty International that originally owned the approach of discrediting the military to give traction to terrorists has given up on it.
The intention of the report is to garner sympathy for Boko Haram fighters while painting the military as an organization that incarcerate, torture and dehumanize children. The military is meant to become distracted in its war against terrorism especially since it will now be compelled to ignore the bulk of Boko Haram fighters are usually youths that just went past their teenage years. Besides slowing down the fight against terrorism, making exception for this population bracket will prove fatal for troops for those in the post-teenage age band have proven to be most ferocious and deadly. The fact that poor nutrition that resulted in stunted growth gives them the appearance of children does not imply that they behave with the innocence of children.
Troops’ units that have in the past made the mistake of treating hardened terrorists as children have tales to tell.
The second issue to draw attention to is the decision of Human Rights Watch to lump together detention units with rehabilitation programmes marks a new low in the extent that some foreign owned outlets will go to justify extorting donors that fund their programmes. Had the group looked beyond the dollar signs that is clouding the eyes of its decision makers it would have realized that its claim of the Nigerian military using kids as prisoners in the name of Boko Haram is another cheap blackmail that Nigerians have now become familiar with as coming from foreign agents bent on destabilizing Nigeria. Such claim is part of the technical support that has been promised as a clandestine means to embolden Boko Haram when its obvious they can no longer sustain their evil against the Nigerian state.
Thirdly, the only aspects that should have been of concern to Human Rights Watch at the exact issues it shied away from. Other local or indigenous groups that have worked in the areas affected by Boko Haram have done much to improve on the conditions in the area through genuine humanitarian work. But Human Rights Watch has not done anything to address its discovery of a so call harsh interrogation of children, and that is assuming that it is genuinely interested in the wellbeing of children. For instance, it supposedly documented the lack of adequate sanitary facilities at detention centres without even running a pilot programme with one cell to demonstrate the quality of facilities it deems acceptable. The implication is that it is more interested in watching human suffering and misery than addressing them. The obsession is with writing reports, doctored reports that serve fake news, instead of taking practical steps that solve identified problems.
We would have also loved for Human Rights Watch similarly failed to be realistic by asking that children that are freed from detention should be handed over to civilian judicial authorities, forgetting that some of them were in custody as per court rulings. It really wants to help it should come up with plans to have children caught up on the wrong side of the conflict relocated to third party countries where they will be far away from the harrowing reality of relieving the difficult moments and experiences the group claimed they have had. But Human Rights Watch is in no condition to do this when its entire report is built on lies. It is largely make-believe literature founded mostly on lies.
CESJET is, therefore, calling on the Nigerian authorities and the rest of the world to throw the Human Rights Watch’s report into a garbage bin because that is where it rightfully belongs. Perhaps some measure of originality might have mitigated the situation such that some lines in the document would have been salvageable but the manner it copied an old format that has failed to record any success paints those that who issued the report are as lazy and unimaginative. It would not be out of place for those that paid this NGO to do a hatchet job suddenly start demanding for refund.
It is on this fact that I encourage the world and members of the fourth estate to continue to demand more answers to the persistent questions;
1. Why are they doing this to Nigeria?
2. Why do they want Nigeria to fail even when the countet has refused to fail ?
3. Who is afraid of President Buhari and the military???
I thank you and thank you all.