from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE Nigerian Defence is investigating allegations that soldiers killed some civilians and raped women at gunpoint during operations to eliminate bandits northeast of the country.
Soldiers are accused of perpetrating the crimes in the Taraba State, where they also allegedly destroyed property during ongoing crackdowns.
The Tiv Cultural and Social Association (TCSA) reported the violations.
“This is not the first time the military is carrying out this kind of shoddy job in our area,” TCSA leader, Chief Goodman Dahida, said.
He alleged the incidents initially occurred last month.
“At the same instances, we received complaints of military raping people’s wives and daughters at gunpoint,” Dahida said.
This has sparked a war of words with the Nigerian defence.
According to the military, troops adhered to rules of engagement and international laws of armed conflict.
“It is therefore mischievous to suggest that soldiers are raping their (complainants’) wives and daughters and destroyed their properties in the name of a manhunt for bandits,” in Southern Taraba,” Major General John Enenche, Defence spokesperson, said.
He however said, in line with global best practices, the military would investigate the claims.
“The TCSA, meanwhile, are enjoined to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims in the public domain.”
It is not the first time the Nigerian armed forces have been accused of human rights violations.
Most abuses have been reported in the northeast where the Boko Haram is wreaking havoc and in the south where some ethnic groups are agitating for independence from the West African country.
– CAJ News