By Moses Olaitan
It is not usual to score an army, any army in the world, one hundred percent positive especially during an operation. The scores plummet significantly when that operation is during wartime, it gets worse when the war is unconventional as in when battling terrorism.
Even under such conditions the Nigerian military has fared well. It self corrected early enough to align with global best practices. It went steps further to institutionalize its commitment to playing fair with the Nigerian Army for instance setting up a Human Rights Desk where members of the public can lodge complaints if they feel abuse has been committed. In other instances, personnel have been court marshalled with those found guilty appropriately sanctioned.
In addition to these, constant trainings and briefing sessions are taking place to expose personnel to the contemporary operations environment and the standards expected of any army internationally. All these are being done to prevent incidents of abuses of any form.
The foregoing is to provide context for evaluating the image that Amnesty International constantly attempts to paint of not just the Armed Forces but Nigeria as a nation. It is most unfortunate that the damage being done by this organization spills beyond its intended target, the military, as it is now damaging the psyche of citizens, who are made to think of themselves as living in an unworthy country. Some of them in the local NGOs created by Amnesty International have been reduced to being criminals that are monetarily induced to subvert their own fatherland.
Leveraging its credential as an NGO of human right activists, Amnesty International has been publishing reports that border on the criminal as it distorts facts to arrive at conclusions that indict the military, sometimes for atrocities that the local population holds Boko Haram responsible for. The timing of these reports is something that several organizations have had course to condemn since they are always primed to inflict maximum damage on the psyche of soldiers and the image of their institution.
Lying against the military is thus a stated mission of this NGO.
Rather than being the exception it is the norm as this organization is in the habit of claiming to be saintly yet it continually acts as a promoter of terrorism by always rising to Boko Haram’s defence when it is on the verge of being beaten. It is most appalling that the sanctity of reports on human rights could be abused towards attaining dubious ends as this organization did with its claim that military personnel sexually exploited and abused women that they help liberate from Boko Haram.
The impression one gets is that Amnesty International would rather these women were still in Boko Haram’s captivity. Their rescue riled the NGO so much that it had to concoct stories to rubbish the Army. It went the additional step of indicting the military for crimes allegedly committed by locals operating as Civilian JTF. The implication is that even opportunistic crimes would be blamed on the army.
Since these crimes are blamed on the army to blackmail the military into inefficiency, it is enough proof that Amnesty International derives pleasure in the killing of civilians yet it preaches human rights. Who is fooling who? Can anyone fool Nigeria on that scale? How much more of these harassment can the country tolerate?
It is a well known fact that the armies of other countries, whose conduct Amnesty International find acceptable, are no better than the Nigerian Army. The reality is that the Nigerian military has done much to avoid descending into the kind of monsters that some troops become under war conditions. This is something for which troops should get accolades and not to be needlessly vilified for protecting civilians.
The people have become wiser. They now know that organizations like Amnesty International allowed terrorism to spread in Nigeria for several years until an administration with spine stepped in to turn the tide. The people should not leave it at the level of just being wiser, they should move a step further to tell the NGO in clear terms that it’s activities in Nigeria have become offensive and unacceptable.
If Amnesty International is discerning, it would have realized by now that its capacity to achieve its stated mission of destabilizing Nigeria is a wasted effort. The only thing that has been destroyed is its own reputation, which currently flops in tatters: the world knows that it lies without remorse while the client states that assigned it briefs are now aware it can no longer deliver as it did in the Middle East or other parts of the world that it has helped transformed into living hells.
Where things stand is obvious. It cannot continue to be our lives according to Amnesty International; it has to be out lives according to what we know to be true and right. Amnesty International does not have that template to tell us that when it has serially failed to do that with certain countries.
Olaitan Esq is a legal practioner based in Ibadan.