A Major with the Nigeria Army, Kehinde Aboseh has put lie to the allegations of violations of human rights in the report of Reuters of the Nigerian Armed Forces’ counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast.
Giving witness on Wednesday in Abuja at the sitting of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) panel investigating allegations of rights violations by the military in counter insurgency operations in the North-East, Aboseh it was unthinkable that Nigerian soldiers could be accused of performing 10,000 abortions and violating the human rights of not only insurgents but people in host communities, narrating how civilians saved his life three days after he was shot in the left leg by Boko Haram insurgents.
Aboseh, who was an operation officer of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) at Kangaruwa, told the panel his harrowing experience the day Boko Haram insurgents attacked and overran Baga in Borno State in 2015 when asked if it was true that soldiers massacred children and other civilians as claimed by the foreign news agency, Reuters, in one of its reports on rights violation by the military in the North-East.
The Army major while claiming that he was hearing about the reports for the first time at the panel, explained that many soldiers lost their lives during the attack and what saved him was that the insurgents did not conduct mop up operation after he was shot.
He said after spending three days in the bush, he was able to see some civilians who gave him food and saved him, saying that, “It is the same civilians the report just read now claimed we killed who saved my life.”
He told the panel that as the operation officer of the quick response force of the MNJTF, he covered areas including Baga and Kukawa, adding that their duty was to protect civilians in the areas to enable them go about their farming activities without any attack from Boko Haram.
Aboseh said in situations where there were civilian casualties of insurgents’ improvised explosive devices (IEDs), soldiers always evacuate such to their medical facility for treatment, irrespective of their sex.
Although he told the panel that there were some encounters with insurgents during the period he served as operation officer, Aboseh said there was never any attack at places civilians were dwelling and “as such there were no collateral casualties. Insurgents came for us, not the civilians”.
He said contrary to Reuters’ claim that there were 60 violent events leading to over 500 deaths in Kukawa, there was nothing like that.
He told the panel headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Abdu Aboki, that: “Whenever the enemies (insurgents) came, soldiers always evacuate civilians to safe places and guarded them there to ensure their safety,”
He further denied the reports that there were attacks on children either through invasion of homes and taking them away from their families to be massacred or poisoning.
He said: “Most of the time I was patrolling, there was never any time children were massacred there. We were friendly with the civilians.
He added that: “Based on our training, we are meant to protect the civilians and the territorial integrity of Nigeria. I don’t see any reason any soldiers will attack civilians.”