The Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on Wednesday demanded an unreserved apology from Reuters International over the video clip it circulated alleging that soldiers with the military Joint Task Force killed unarmed civilians in Maiduguri.
It described the claims as not only spurious and malicious, but also aimed at discrediting the image of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The army said the apology must be given the same level of publicity given the ‘malicious report.’
Colonel Mohammed Yerima, Director of Defence Information, addressed a joint media briefing that had in attendance Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Bola Koleoso, and Director of Airforce Public Relations, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas.
He said: “The attention of the DHQ has been drawn to a video clip released by Reuters International, alleging that a soldier filmed his colleagues while they were summarily executing civilians in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“In spite of the fact that Reuters has already withdrawn the malicious report, citing lack of authenticity, the DHQ wishes to protest in very strong terms this pattern of reportage by a section of the Nigerian media in which the time honoured practice of getting both sides of the story are jettisoned on the alter of sensationalism.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to inform the media that after viewing the video clip and conducting search from our achieves, we want to state that the video clip is not new.
“It was shown on Al Jazeera network on February 4, 2010, alleging Nigerian army soldiers killing civilians in Jos.
“As a result of the Al Jazeera network report, Directorate of Army Public Relations had cause to make a press release debunking the allegation which appeared in some Nigerian daily newspapers between February 4 and 8, 2010.
“The general public was reassured that the Nigerian soldiers were not the ones being depicted in the video clips.
“Contrary to Reuters report and video clip, the Nigerian Army does not use the type of vehicle shown on internal security operations and especially not in JTF operations.
“Also, the vegetation in the video clip is not vegetation obtainable in Maiduguri or in any arid region in Nigeria.”
“The Nigerian Army on internal security operations does not use belts over their camouflage uniforms. In fact, it is only the Guards Brigade based in Abuja that uses their belt over camouflage uniforms in the army.”