By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has accused the International Committee on Red Cross (ICRC) of a deliberately peddling falsehood to undermine the efforts of the Nigerian military in the North-East.
The Centre believes the international humanitarian organisation is misrepresenting facts in a bid to mislead unsuspecting members of the general public.
This reaction is following a recent report where the Red Cross alleged that nearly 22,000 Nigerians are missing in the North-East.
According to the ICRC, this represented the highest number of missing persons registered in any country.
At a world press conference on Monday in Abuja, CESJET revealed that there is a campaign of calumny by the ICRC against the Military’s counter-insurgency operations in North-East Nigeria.
Speaking on behalf of CESJET, Executive Director, Isaac Ikpa, said that there’s no element of truth in the piece, describing it as a propaganda to dampen the morale of the troops, especially at a time the military recorded massive gains in the fight against terrorism.
The Centre, therefore, advised Red Cross to desist from commenting on issues outside their operational purview and concentrate on providing humanitarian services that it is known for.
While urging Nigerians to always verify such reports, the Centre, however, called on the ICRC to tender an unreserved apology to the military authorities, as well as withdraw the statement credited to it.
The statement reads;
‘’I most warmly welcome you all to the World Press Conference put together by the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) in the light of the recently misrepresentation of facts by the International Committee on Red Cross on the counter-insurgency operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria where either by omission or commission erroneously stated that over 22,000 Nigerians have been declared missing in North-East Nigeria.
‘’The Centre for Social Justice, Equity, and Transparency, having been conversant with the counter-insurgency operations in North-East Nigeria, is alarmed by the fact the International Committee on Red Cross would condescend to the unenviable height of misrepresenting facts and attempting to mislead unsuspecting members of the general public.
‘’The disposition of the ICRC is an affront to the efforts of various civil society organizations that have devoted time and resources in monitoring the counter-insurgency operations of the Nigerian Military in North-East Nigeria. It is as well an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians for such a false statement to be made public by the ICRC.
‘’This is also cognisant of the fact that the parameters used in arriving at such postulation might either be defective or outdated, as there is no element of truth in the ICRC report on the number of missing persons in North-East Nigeria.’’
Going further, it said, ‘’The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency see the recent move by the ICRC as covert terrorist propaganda aimed at damping the morale of the Nigerian troops in operation in North-East Nigeria.
‘’It is also somewhat curious that this is coming on the heels when the Nigerian Military has made considerable gains in the fight against terrorism in North-East Nigeria that has seen the remnants of Boko Haram flee to the fringes of the Lake Chad Basin region.
‘’It is also curious that the ICRC would feign ignorance to the fact that the Nigerian Military in operation in North-East Nigeria has been conducting search and rescue operations that have resulted in the rescue of thousands of women and children and reunited them with their families.
‘’The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency wishes to highlight the fact that on November 17, 2019, Nigerian troops deployed in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State rescued women and children, as well as an older woman in her 80s from Boko Haram captivity.
‘’On May 19, 2019, The Nigerian army rescued 54 women and children held captive by the extremist group Boko Haram. On June 24, 2019, over 120 women and children were rescued by the Nigerian military from Boko Haram captivity. On March 7, 2018, over 1000 women and children were rescued by the Nigerian military from Boko Haram captivity. On June 5, 2018, the Nigerian Military rescued 54 women been used as sex slaves by the Boko Haram terrorist. And the list goes on and is verifiable.
‘’The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency, believes that the report by the ICRC is intended for mischief purposes as there is no iota of truth in the claims made therein. It consequently behoves on all well-meaning Nigerians to disregard whatever postulations the ICRC has canvassed with regards to missing persons in North-East Nigeria, as well as a probe of military operations in North East,’’ it concluded.