A human rights commission in Nigeria says it will investigate reports that the country’s military has been running a secret abortion program that has conducted tens of thousands of forced abortions on women suspected of being impregnated by Boko Haram terrorists.
Officials from the United Nations, the Nigerian government and other partners met on Friday at the headquarters of the National Human Rights Commission in the capital Abuja and said they would look into the report on mass abortions by the military, VOA news reported.
The move by Nigerian officials follows a Reuters report report earlier this month that the military had conducted at least 10,000 secret and often forced abortions on women suspected of being impregnated by Boko Haram militants since 2013 as the nation sought to crack down on the insurgent group.
After speaking to victims, health care workers and members of the military, the report detailed that a clandestine abortion program had been launched because senior officials reportedly believed that babies born to rebellious fathers were “predestined” to “one day take up arms against the Nigerian government.”
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A civilian health worker described the program as “sanitizing society” as women, largely without their consent, were given pills and injections to force abortions after being kidnapped and often raped by members of Boko Haram.
Four soldiers described for the publication how they were told by their superiors that abortions were needed to “destroy rebel fighters before they could be born”.
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Soldiers detailed how the women would be separated in the field after rescue operations or later taken in groups to military facilities or civilian hospitals to undergo a mandatory abortion.
“When allegations like these are made, for us as a human rights commission, we always like to apply due process, and that would mean we will hear both sides of the story before drawing any conclusions,” Anthony Ojukwu, the executive secretary of the national commission for human rights, he told VOA News on Friday. “We will ask the relevant agencies to investigate this, so that we can make the correct analysis of the situation.”
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Boko Haram, a militant group seeking to impose a strict Islamic state in the region, has been terrorizing Christians across the country for years, carrying out executions and kidnappings, including the 2014 kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolchildren.
Fox News Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.