Investigate allegation of 10,000 forced abortions, UN tells Nigeria

THE United Nations has urged the Nigerian authorities to investigate reports of systemic and coerced abortions allegedly perpetrated by its army since 2013, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said.

An investigation by the Reuters news agency published on Wednesday revealed that the abortions carried out on women and girls with pregnancies ranging from a few weeks to eight months were mostly carried out without the person’s consent, and often without their prior knowledge.

“We call on the Nigerian authorities to fully investigate these allegations and make sure there’s accountability,” Dujarric told reporters on Friday.


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The Reuters report said some of the girls were as young as 12 years old and just one out of the 33 victims who said they underwent abortions while in the custody of the Nigerian Army, admitted during an interview that she voluntarily consented to the procedure.

Five civilian healthcare workers, nine security personnel involved in the programme, and other government employees such as armed guards engaged in escorting pregnant women to abortion sites were also interviewed during the investigation.

“Reuters reviewed copies of military documents and civilian hospital records describing or tallying thousands of abortion procedures,” the report claimed.

However, the Nigerian military has denied the programme ever existed and said Reuters reporting was part of a foreign effort to undermine the country’s fight against the insurgents.

Chief of Defence Staff Lucky Irabor, speaking at the 61st session of the weekly media briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, described the allegations as spurious.

“I was informed by the Director of Defence Information that he received a mail from Reuters requesting to have an interview with me and he gave me a letter written by one Alexandra Xavis making all manner of spurious allegations, many of which have now been published by the same Reuters.






     

     

    “I thought with the problems we are contending with, I should not waste my energy on such things besides, it falls within the realm of ‘my mind is made up’ and since that was the position of Reuters, I didn’t think it was necessary for me to call them up and engage in that.

    “We are not unaware that there are extra-territorial elements who do not want us to live in peace or move forward. I am also aware that the war economy has affected many people and now that we are making progress, they think that we need to return to the old order,” Irabor said.

    Similarly, the Major General who heads the military’s counterinsurgency campaign in the northeast Christopher Musa, in a November 24 interview with Reuters addressed the abortion programme.

    “Not in Nigeria, not in Nigeria. Everybody respects life. We respect families. We respect women and children. We respect every living soul,” Musa was quoted by Reuters as saying.

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