NHRC probes Army’s alleged 10,000 forced abortions

The National Human Rights Commission will commence an investigation into a report that the Nigerian Army had been running a secret abortion programme since at least 2013 for which about 10,000 pregnancies have been aborted, its Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu (SAN) said on Tuesday.

Already, the commission said it would on February 7, 2023, inaugurate a Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in the Implementation of Counter Insurgency Operations in the North East.

An international news agency, Reuters, had accused the Nigerian Army of running a programme where forceful abortions were carried out on female victims of Boko Haram/Islamic State in West African Province.

The report claimed that the Army carried out the abortions without the persons’ consent and that at least 10,000 pregnancies had been illegally terminated.

These were contained in an investigation published by the news agency in December 2022.

Ojukwu, in a statement issued by the Deputy Director (Public Affairs and External Linkages), Fatimah Mohammed, stated that the panel will among other things “focus on investigating Reuters report which alleged that Nigerian military was involved in abortion of many pregnancies in the North East in the last 10 years.”

Members of the panel are retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Abdu Aboki, (Chairman); Kemi Okonyedo (representing women rights organisations); and others.

The PUNCH reported that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, had on December 17, 2023, during a visit to the commission demanded an investigation into the Reuters report.

Also, a coalition of over 228 women’s rights organisations under the aegis of Womanifesto, had requested an investigation of the reported forced abortion of at least 10,000 pregnancies among rescued women and girls, although the military had denied it.

The convener of Womanifesto and Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, made the demand in a statement issued in Abuja, with a call on the Federal Government to institute a panel of inquiry.

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