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Nigerian Defence Chief Says Reuters Report On Military’s Abortion Of ‘Boko Haram Unborn Children’ Is ‘Untrue’

December 8, 2022

It was gathered that the women and girls had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants.


General Lucky Irabor, Nigeria's Chief of Defence Staff, has denied a Reuters report of a forced abortion campaign involving at least 10,000 pregnancies of women and girls in the country's North-East region.

He denied this at the 61st session of the State House Ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

Reuters had reported that the Nigerian military aborted a minimum of 10,000 pregnancies since at least 2013, when it started conducting a secret, illegal abduction programme for women and girls in the northeast.

It was gathered that the women and girls had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants.

It was further reported that resisters were "beaten, held at gunpoint, or drugged into compliance," citing witness accounts.

According to the Reuters report, one of the victims, Fati said she was four months pregnant when she was rescued from Boko Haram captivity by the military.

She said shortly after being rescued, uniformed men gave her and five other women mysterious injections and pills in a dim room at a military barracks in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

After about four hours, Fati felt a searing pain in her stomach and black blood seeped out of her. The other women were bleeding as well, and writhing on the floor. “The soldiers want to kill us,” she thought.

According to her, the soldiers aborted the pregnancies without telling them. And she was warned: “If you share this with anyone, you will be seriously beaten.”

The abortions mostly were carried out without the person’s consent – and often without their prior knowledge, according to the witness accounts. The women and girls ranged from a few weeks to eight months pregnant, and some were as young as 12 years old, interviews and records showed.

The report said central to the abortion programme is a notion widely held within the military and among some civilians in the northeast: that the children of insurgents are predestined, by the blood in their veins, to one day take up arms against the Nigerian government and society. Four soldiers and one guard said they were told by superiors that the programme was needed to destroy insurgent fighters before they could be born.

In response, the Chief of Defence Staff stated that the report lacked credibility and that the conclusions reached were illogical.

Answering questions regarding the allegations made in the report, Irabor said, “That is outright nonsense. Their allusion is news to me. It never occurred. I never saw anything like that from Maiduguri down to Maimalamari Cantonment where I lived, that is a major hospital for our personnel and their family. I am disappointed, to say the least. So, it is not true.

“I was informed by the Director of Defense Information about a mail from Reuters requesting an interview with me. And he gave me a letter written by one Alexander making allegations that have now been published by Reuters.

“I simply said he should go back to the person and answer their questions but I’m not going to dignify such a report.

“You’re saying the military since 2013 has been engaged in a planned abortion programme and he said that is part of the government’s design. In that letter, he said that 12,000 abortions have been conducted. But in the published report, we saw ‘at least 10,000.’”