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Military faults allegations of rape, underage soldiers

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Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

The military has faulted claims that it was using underage soldiers in its counter-insurgency operation in the northeast to fight Boko Haram.

Theatre Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Maj. Gen Rogers Nicholas in a statement late Thursday night said the allegation of human rights violation in the theatre was targeted to “malign Nigeria and tarnish the good image of gallant military that has launched a renewed campaign to bring to an end the menace of terrorism in the country.”

He insisted that the allegation that the military was using children below the age of 18 to fight Boko Haram was baseless and untrue.

“The Nigerian Military is a thoroughbred professional organization and upholds the fundamental rights of every citizen including children. The Military will not condescend so low to resort to the use of under age to fight for it,” Gen Nicholas said.

He also faulted the allegation that some boys detained at Giwa Barracks were being use by the military to cook or as messengers and porters. He said detainees were not allowed to cook their meal in detention as the military provides foods cooked at different locations to detainees.

On the allegation of rape by military troops at IDPs camp, he said no military personnel works or is deployed inside IDP Camps within the Theatre of Operations. “The management and operations of such camps is solely the responsibility of the various NGOs working at such facilities and the para-military organizations that provide security at such camps,” he explained.

He said troops were only deployed to the outer peremetre of IDPs camps and “under strict instructions not to interfere with activities at such camps but are only there to ensure no harm is brought to workers, IDPs or any person authorised to work in the camp.”

He described all the allegations malicious, calling on people to disregard them but continue to support the military efforts to rid the northeast of Boko Haram element.

He declared three Unicef staffers; Priscillia Hoveyda, Maher Farea and Milen Kidane who put up the allegations not welcomed (persona non grata) in the northeast

“Consequently upon the foregoing, the following persons working for UNICEF are hereby declared persona non grata in the North East. They are Priscillia Hoveyda, Maher Farea and Milen Kidane,” the commander declared.

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