Abuja—The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the Reuters’ report that Nigerian military ran a secret mass abortion programme in the war against Boko Haram is fake news, disinformation and a ploy to demoralise and distract the fighting forces.
The minister stated the government position on Monday in Abuja at the 10th edition of the Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)’.
The scorecard series was launched in October to showcase and document the achievements of the Buhari Administration and the series featured the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora.
In an opening remarks Mohammed said the fake report was also a strategy to set the world against Nigeria and cut off the support that is critical to crushing terrorists.
He said the news agency made the grave allegation without a scintilla of evidence, citing only anonymous sources and the reported review of phantom ‘documents’.
“The agency claimed that its investigation was based on interviews with 33 women and girls.
“How do they use interviews with 33 women and girls to arrive at the bogus claim of 10,000 abortions?
“And in a further indication that the figure of abortions quoted was arbitrary or possibly conjured, the agency first put the figure at 12,000 before settling for 10,000,” he said.
Mohammed reiterated the federal government’s position that there was no ‘secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme’ being run by the military in the Northeast or anywhere across the country.
He queried the basis for the so-called investigation at a time the military had been recording successes decimating the terrorists and rescuing abducted persons.
He further queried the basis for the story when the military had been receiving hundreds of thousands of terrorists who have surrendered.
According to the minister, in 2022 alone, the Nigerian military had rescued 11 Chibok girls with all their children, 2,018 other persons (comprising 339 adult males, 660 adult females and 1019 children).
He said 82,645 persons, comprising 16,621 male fighters, 24,638 women and 41,386 children, have surrendered.
Mr Mohammed said the military had also neutralized 494 terrorists excluding terrorists neutralised through airstrikes and terrorists’ infighting.
“Why is this news agency not playing up this positive news but instead chose to give prominence to a phantom abortion story?,” he queried
Mohammed said the federal government has given its military a clean bill of health over the allegations stressing that they had served meritoriously at home, and at regional and global peacekeeping operations from 1960 to date.
“We know that military operations in the Northeast are not arbitrary but based on the military’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and Rules of Engagement (ROE), among others.
“Where any proven infraction or criminal act has been committed by any soldier, the law has always taken its course.
“But it is beyond the pale and downright dangerous to accuse a nation’s military, without any verifiable evidence, of massive illegal abortions and infanticides,” he said.
Reuters in the report had alleged that since at least 2013, the Nigerian military had conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the country’s northeast ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.