–As Army General reaffirms military’s protection policy for women, children
The Borno state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Muhammad Arab has said that he will not compromise the ethics of the medical profession including carrying out illegal abortion even at gunpoint, adding that Reuters’ report is disturbingly false.
According to Prof. Arab who is a Fellow West African College of Physicians, Reuters’ report seeking to indict the state government as an accomplice of Nigeria military in the allegation of abortion of 10,000 pregnancies, massacre of children and other Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) does not hold water since there is no policy of the state that supports illegal abortion.
The Commissioner who is a Consultant Pediatrician said contrary to the report purporting that two state government hospitals; Specialist Hospital Maiduguri and Umar Shehu Ultra-Modern hospitals, Maiduguri were used by the military to carry out abortion, he stated that all the medical facilities in the state are run with the highest level of professional ethics and that all medical records are intact.
He made the testimony before the 7-Member panel chaired by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Abdu Aboki, saying that life is sacred and must be treated accordingly.
The former Chairman Hospital Management Board of Specialist Hospital Maiduguri denied allegation that the state hospitals usually receive corpses of pregnant women who bled to death as a result of illegal termination of pregnancies, saying that even brought-in-dead must be certified and issued death certificate by a doctor before the corpse will be deposited in the hospital.
In the same manner, the Commander of the Nigerian Defense Academy, Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf informed the panel that Reuters report was issued with a “malicious intent”, describing it as “untrue”.
Continuing, Major General Yusuf who was former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Maiduguri said that at the heat of the insurgency which coincides with the period Reuters’ report is refers, nobody could muster the courage or have the presence of mind to talk about keeping women and girls for the purpose of illegal abortion.
The state Executive Member stated that the premium respect the military has for women and children is so impeachable that it has waived several opportunities to neutralize the insurgents just because they shielded themselves with women and children.
Therefore, he said it defies logic for anyone to believe Reuters’ report which alleged that the military was implementing a programme of abortion, massacre of children and other heartrending gender-based violations between the period of 2013 and 2021.
Similarly, the Consultant orthopedic surgeon, Colonel Stephen Onuchukwu told the panel that it is inconceivable that trained medical officers or military personnel will get involved in secret or illegal abortion.
According to him, soldiers at the frontline do not have the luxury of time to think about how to abort pregnancies or kill children believed to have been fathered by Boko Haram, pointing out that it was the military that rescued most of the Chibok girls that were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 among other rescues.
Also in his oral evidence, the Director Borno state Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Abdullahi Suleiman said that the allegation of illegal abortion cannot be proven in the various IDPs camps in the state.
He stated that SEMA Officials normally coordinate the activities of the camp while development partners like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF and Civil Society Organisations assist in providing their basic needs like water, food and sanitation.