President Muhammadu Buhari has accused Amnesty International of playing a role that seeks to damage the morale of the Nigerian military. He was responding to recent reports by the group which accused the Army of crimes against humanity, as well as slow response to the herders-farmers clashes.
“The Federal Government is increasingly concerned about the role that Amnesty International is playing in the war against terror in Nigeria,” the president said in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, a spokesman. “The organisation’s operations in Nigeria seem geared towards damaging the morale of the Nigerian military.
He even equated the group with Boko Haram. “It often appears as if the Nigerian government is fighting two wars on terror: against Boko Haram and against Amnesty International,” he said.
Consider this line by the presidency statement: “The obvious bias and inaccuracies in Amnesty International’s recent country reports on Nigeria risk Amnesty’s reputation as an impartial international organisation.”
Earlier today, the Army accused the group of bias and called for their exit from the country. The Army statement did not carry much weight, coming less than a week after it also accused UNICEF of having links with Boko Haram and stopping the agency’s operations before making an about-turn.
Bottom line: The president is being the typical Nigerian politician who fights and protests against reports that are unfavorable. Just today, the same Garba Shehu who released the above statement went on Channels TV to discredit the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), a government agency, simply because the government did not like its figures.
Recall that few weeks after Buhari became president, Amnesty International released a report in June 2015, accusing top ranking officers of the Nigerian military of gross abuse of human rights. Back then the president was riding on the wave of his unprecedented victory. He asked the same Garba Shehu to release a statement on his behalf saying,he is “quite disturbed by the allegations contained in the report.” He then asked the army to conduct an internal investigation. Nothing happened, of course. Three years later, with no change in the attitude or professionalism of the military, the president has now come full circle and accuses Amnesty International of terror.