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Retired general faces panel over alleged forced abortions claims

Hassan Umar, a former theatre commander in Maiduguri, says he was shocked by Reuters’ forced abortion allegation against the Nigerian Army.

Umar spoke on Wednesday when he testified before the investigative panel probing human rights violations in counter-insurgency operations in the north-east.

In December 2022, Reuters published a three-part report on human rights violations by the Nigerian military.

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The report alleged that the army conducted forced abortions on victims of insurgency, noting that about 10,000 pregnancies were terminated.

Lucky Irabor, chief of defence staff, had rejected the claims, adding that such events never occurred.

On February 8, 2023, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) set up a panel to probe the claims made in the report.

The former army commander said such incidents never happened when he served in the region, adding that the Nigerian army is trained to render help.

“The situation then was very tense and it was not easy to move from one place to the other without knowing what was happening at the other side,” NAN quoted Umar as saying.

“My period there was short and there was never a time we have dealings with the civilians.

“When we are in need of medical attention, the sector commander gives instructions to the 7 Div medical team to handle it.

“The analysis given from the Reuters report is painful, I feel pained.

“When we are together we deliberate on issues and there was never a time such issues came up.

“I am surprised to hear all these, but I want to tell you these did not happen in the Nigerian Army.

“In theatre operations, nothing is done in isolation; information is very important and army, you take order from your immediate commander.”

He asked the panel to get more information that would reveal the officers who might be involved in the allegation made by Reuters.

“We have a work diary, where every activity is recorded, the panel should go for it because whatever we do is not hidden, nothing is kept secret,” he added.

“It is good if such matters should be reported to the headquarters in Abuja, so that if an officer is found wanting, he should be dealt with.”