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Group to NHRC: Publish report on alleged forced abortions on victims of insurgency

Group to NHRC: Publish report on alleged forced abortions on victims of insurgency
January 24
13:45 2023

Nigerian feminists have asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to publish its findings on the alleged forced abortions on victims of insurgency.

In December 2022, an investigation by Reuters accused the Nigerian Army of carrying out illegal abortions on victims of insurgency in the north-east.

The Reuters investigation said since 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the region.

In the report, at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls were ended.

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The federal government denied the allegation, saying accusations without evidence were dangerous.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said “the report is a strategy” to set the world against Nigeria and cut off the support that is critical to crushing terrorists.

Lucky Irabor, the chief of defence staff, had also dismissed the report, describing it as “outright nonsense”.

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In reaction, the NHRC said it would launch an investigation into the allegations of forced abortions.

Tony Ojukwu, executive director of the NHRC, said the investigation would be public and transparent, and in accord with the principles of fair hearing.

In a statement on Monday jointly signed by Chioma Agwuegbo, Fadekemi Akinfaderin, Leena Hoffmann, Ifeoma Ikwueme, Azeenarh Mohammed, Nana Nwachukwu, Lola Okolosie, Omolara Oriye, and Buky Williams, the Nigerian feminists decried the silence on the case.

The group asked the commission to commit to its assurance of a public investigation and place the victims at the centre of the findings.

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“This Friday marks six weeks since Major General Irabor called on the National Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into these reports of forced abortions,” the statement reads.

“We, Nigerian feminists, call on the National Human Rights Commission to make public their plans to take this investigation forward, expand its remit to look at the killings of children, and commit to doing so in a victim-centred way.

“We demand the National Human Rights Commission conduct the investigation in a way that ensures there are no reprisals against survivors and witnesses of these human rights violations against women and children for speaking out and respects their continued anonymity.

“Work with existing service providers who support women associated with Boko Haram to extend comprehensive services to those subjected to forced abortions and recommend measures that ensure accountability for those who ordered these human rights violations against women and children, those responsible for perpetrating them, and their commanders who knew what was happening but did nothing.”

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DECRIMINALISE ABORTION

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Speaking further, the group asked the federal government to decriminalise abortions so women can choose if they want to continue a pregnancy or not.

Nigeria has one of the most restrictive abortion laws globally. Sections 232 to 236 of the Penal Code and sections 228 and 230 of the Criminal Code Act say abortions are only permissible to save the mother’s life.

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The group described the law as an abuse of human rights, saying the government should “at the very least, expand the grounds for termination of pregnancy to include cases of rape and incest to strengthen the implementation of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act”.

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