Suspicious shadows of foreign NGOs in festering Boko Haram
By Tunde Kila
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian military have spent the last four years dousing the wild fires of terrorism in the country. A lot has been done by Government and individuals to arrive at this destination. But traces of the problem is still there for nearly inexplicable reasons.
Nigeria is compelled to face another facet of terrorism, which by character and actions of the actors appears more ruthless and heartless by the executors. And until terrorism resurged again in 2019, one could reasonably assert with certainty that solace and respite came the way of victims and communities of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East (NE) Nigeria. It was where it raged in extreme turbulence.
Part of the grounds the Nigerian military regained in counter-insurgency operations in the last few years are facing portentous reversal. The pairing and blend of forces with Boko Haram by the ISIL’s backed Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists sect is the nascent threat.
Also disturbing beyond the complicit roles played by covert actors, Nigeria’s nightmare in the resurrected wave of terrorism includes the suspicious shadows of some foreign Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the nation’s Boko Haram conundrum. These NGOs operating in Nigeria and the NE in particular under the pretext of rendering humanitarian services to victims of terrorism may be bad companions. They are suspected of aiding terrorists and accentuating terrorism in the country.
Over time, the activities of these NGOs in the NE have raised questionable bars on genuine humanitarian trust. It has become too naked, somewhat bold and consistent to ignore. In Nigeria, almost everyone believes the word “international” ascribed to Amnesty International (AI) is only applicable to Nigeria.
All the attention and energy of AI is concentrated on Nigeria. It appears as if other nations are not facing terrorists’ battles or where such warfare exists, there are no human beings and so, their rights are not violated to attract an “eagle eye” by AI.
Meanwhile, the entire Middle East is terrorism signified, with over 20 terrorists’ sects operating in the region. But AI is deliberately blind to the atrocities of human rights violations in this region. It was just yesterday, America brutally assassinated the leader of the Quds sect, another terror group, Gen. Qassim Soleimani alongside three other persons.
At the instance of Gen. Soleimani’s assassination, there was no material evidence suggesting a war scenario that would have compelled American special forces to have acted in that manner. Unfortunately, AI’s ink dried up and not even a word either in a press release or so-called annual report ever mentioned this incident anywhere on abuse of human rights.
Insistently at the forefront of NGOs suspected of such repulsive indulgence against Nigeria remains the Amnesty International (AI), an international watchdogs for human rights abuses and violations. Nigerians and the coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have kept protesting against the activities of AI in Nigeria.
The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has incessantly brawled with the AI over false allegations, mendaciousness and malicious reports against the Nigerian Military and troops in the frontlines; same for the Nigerian Military itself.
And last year, the Nigerian Army, temporary banned the operations of some NGOs. The UNICEF of the United Nations (UN) was also affected. The Military alleged some of its officials furtively committed acts of espionage for terrorists in the North East.
In the same year, a frustrated Nigerian Army also angrily shut down several offices of Action Against Hunger (AAH) and Mercy Corps (MCs) in the North East. Both foreign NGOs are into the task of providing humanitarian assistance to victims of terrorism in the areas of food and medical supplies.
The Nigerian Army’s sustained discreet searchlight on their activities posted signals suspecting the NGOs of also supplying food and medication to terrorists operating in the region. The Army raised several alarms accusing the NGOs of supporting insurgents and indirectly, thriving terrorism, until it was compelled to act by closing down its offices.
Although, the FGN has lifted the ban on AAH and MCs which are now operating under stringent conditions in the region. Nevertheless, the challenge of the Nigerian Military in sustaining the victory over insurgents or staging effective counter-insurgency operations over resurgent insurgency in the North East is far from being over.
It is observable that Amnesty International (AI) poses the biggest problem for the Nigerian military in prosecuting anti-terrorism combats. AI’s persistently suspicious aiding of terrorists and their sponsors through fake propaganda and defamation of the conduct of soldiers involved in the war by fabricated accusations of human violations has been a cog in the wheel of a progressive war against terrorists.
It is now clear that AI’s offices all over the world have ganged up against Nigeria’s battle with terrorists. The first sign of this intentional posturing by AI against Nigeria which aligns and sympathizes with Boko Haram/Haram terrorists is the eagerness of some of its offices worldwide to conspiratorially report the Nigerian counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram criminals and ISWAP terrorists with every bias.
And their confluence point has always been to indict the Nigerian Government for consenting to the perpetration of human rights violations and refusal to investigate; or the Nigerian Army for masterminding human rights violations.
The grand design by AI and its suspected pay masters is to frustrate bi-lateral understanding which Nigeria, under the Buhari Presidency, has struck with countries like America and the United Kingdom for military aid in terms of training support, surveillance/logistics and weapons procurement to battle terrorism in Nigeria.
It may shock Nigerians and the world to know that that Amnesty International UK, which is a separate country headquarters of AI and, different from AI African region or Nigeria’s country office unashamedly canvassed this position in one of its report on Nigeria’s battle with terrorists.
The AI-UK published on its website a news report captioned; “Nigeria: Boko Haram survivors raped and starved by military ‘rescuers'” dated May 24, 2018. The report identified Mr. Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty UK’s Military, Security and Policing Programme director as the newsmaker and highlighted in its riders that; “New Amnesty investigation details the “horrendous” treatment of women and girls by the Nigerian military since escape from Boko Haram…Many forced to become ‘girlfriends’ of military in exchange for humanitarian assistance…UK must urgently review support to the Nigerian military…UK needs to ensure “any training it’s providing hasn’t contributed to the vile abuses and violations currently taking place in north-east Nigeria.”
Feeley-Sprague finally let the cat out of the bag, by saying; “The UK government must work with relevant women human rights defenders to review UK support to the Nigerian military…”
AI’s country office in Nigeria serves as the architect of the concocted news reports about Nigeria from where it is syndicated elsewhere in their offices around the world. It embellished, amplified and circulated with scant regards for the facts. On February 1, 2019, AI also published on its website a news story captioned; “Nigeria: Deadliest Boko Haram attack on Rann leaves at least 60 people murdered.”
The lead paragraph stated that “At least 60 people were killed following the 28 January devastating Boko Haram attack on Rann, a border town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has confirmed.” Sadly, there was nowhere throughout the story AI could justify even its guesses that 60 Nigerians were killed in the attack.
The attack was perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents. But despite the atrocities and human rights violations insurgents meted out to victims in the onslaught, AI was very careful in stating or mentioning the Boko Haramists. It mildly and vaguely said, “This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice.”
And next, AI descended very hard and callously against Nigerian soldiers, accusing them of abscondment from duty when Boko Haram came visiting. AI added; “Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians”
And always consistent with reports of AI in Nigeria is that it alleges aberrations in several communities, but rely on what they coat as “eye witness” from a few distraught persons to anchor their report on a generalized scale indicting either the FGN or the Nigerian Military.
More defective is that AI has assumed the role of every day media in Nigeria by reporting incidents of Boko Haram attacks, painting very horrible portraits of the attacks at every instance. But it does not deem it necessary to balance/confirm such reports with government or military sources before rushing to the press with any trash fed them.
Therefore, AI is an active promoter of cyberspace terrorism in Nigeria. It was persuaded by public agitations before it started mentioning the human rights violations by Boko Haram insurgents in its reports. Now that a guilty conscience haunts AI, it silently or vaguely blames insurgents; but descends very harshly on the FGN or the Nigerian Military calling for ICC to investigate and prosecute them for alleged war crimes.
AI is wittingly escalating Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in Nigeria through cyberspace terrorism with such gibberish it consistently pushes into public domain. AI is enjoying these fraudulent practices and it is reason it does not plan to leave Nigeria anytime soon in spite of public protestations against their continued stay. But a good conscience should tell them to stop dancing on the graves of our patriots.
Kila wrote this piece from Ikeja, Lagos.