Barely a week after it released a report alleging that the Nigerian Army runs an abortion program, Reuters has again released another report accusing the Nigerian Army of killing children in its 13-year grueling fight against Boko Haram terrorism.
What did the report say?
In the investigative report released yesterday Monday, December 12, Reuters alleged that soldiers and armed guards of the Nigerian Army and allied security forces “slaughtered children” on the orders of their army commanders, because the children were assumed to be collaborating with militants in Boko Haram or its Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) offshoot, and that they (the children) may have inherited the tainted blood of their insurgent fathers.
According to more than 40 witnesses interviewed in the report, including parents and civilian witnesses and soldiers, who participated in the several operations, where the killings were carried out, they confirmed that they saw the Nigerian Military targeted and kill children or saw their dead bodies after such military operations.
Reuters said reporters were unable to independently verify the number of children estimated to have been killed by eyewitnesses in the operations, but of the six specific incidents investigated, about 60 children were found to have been killed, with the most recent happening in February 2021. The report added that the killing methods ranged from shooting, poisoning, and suffocation of the children.
What could be the reason for their action?
The investigation found that Nigerian soldiers killed those children in the belief that “if their fathers were insurgents, they would also grow up to be the same”. The report also indicated that the killing was a medium for the Nigerian soldiers to vent their anger against the insurgents and as well, avenge the death of their comrades.
“I don’t see them as children, I see them as Boko Haram,” one of the soldiers told Reuters Journalist.
The Nigerian Army has however denied the report describing it as an insult to Nigerians and part of a foreign effort to undermine the fight against insurgency.