BOSSO, Niger — For the soldiers, the young men’s long, flowing robes — the traditional garb of Muslim West Africa — were enough to establish guilt, the refugees said.
“As soon as they see you with clothing like this, they shoot,” said Abukar Ari, a Koranic teacher in a long robe who said he had fled across the border from Nigeria two weeks before. “They don’t ask any questions. I’ve seen them shoot people. Yes, I’ve seen them shoot.”
The Nigeria Response
The New York Times report on Nigerian Military
The Defence Headquarters has noted the report published in the New York Times with the title “In Nigeria, ‘Killing People Without Asking Who they Are”. The New York Timesreport dwelling on what it described as “atrocities being committed by the Nigerian military against innocent civilians”, sought to create in the minds of its reader’s an imaginary refugee situation in the area. It quoted non-existent people, painted a picture of an army that cannot distinguish between the enemy and unarmed civilians; an army that turns its guns against the same people it is out to protect. This is certainly not the Nigerian Armed Forces, and there is no killing of civilians in the on-going operation as New York Times desperately sought to portray.
Imbued with half- truths, unsubstantiated claims and outright misrepresentations, the report, as in some others carried by their fellows in the certain media, strived in futility to demonize the ongoing operation in the Northeast, all with the intention of bringing to disrepute, the character and professionalism of the Nigerian military and security agencies. Apart from the reference to its series of usually faceless sources, there is so far no reasonable evidence of the allegations so zealously presented by the New York Times. There is indeed no basis for such situation neither has there been any credible report from responsible quarters in Nigeria.
The claim that ‘Nigerian refugees are pouring into Niger Republic’ despite the unambiguous rebuttal by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Borno State Government is another pointer to the deliberate misrepresentation of facts by New York Times and its allies in the social media. NEMA and the State Government concerned have already addressed this issue in their separate statements on 28 May 2013 published in the Daily Trust of 29 May and other media outlets in Nigeria.
Indeed, if the foreign media, propelled by whatever ulterior motive, have resolved to whip up resentment against our institutions, it is certainly not incumbent on any of our local media organizations in Nigeria to offer its platform for the orchestration of such mischief.
In the light of the foregoing, the Defence Headquarters acting in concert with the Ministry of Defence, wishes to alert Nigerians particularly our local media about this unfortunate tendency and trend in the foreign media. The need for Nigerian media to remain patriotic as they have demonstrated in their coverage of the operation so far is again reiterated please.