The Nigerian military appears to be diversifying its response to Amnesty International’s oversight on its counter-insurgency tactics in the Northeast. Responding to an Amnesty report Monday that claimed that 10, 000 persons died in detention in military facilities, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) is, instead of raw anger, delegitimizing the methodology of the report.
AP’s report Tuesday based on a synthesis of data by AI said all the deaths in this case occurred as a result of their being detained in connection with the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria. The hub is said to be what the report codifies as the “infamous Giwa Barracks,” in Maiduguri from where 166 corpses were reportedly transferred to the mortuary in April 2017 alone.
According to Major-General John Enenche who coordinates Defence Media Operations, the sample size upon which the report reached its conclusion denies it credibility in terms of global best practices. General Enenche is also questioning the loyalty direction of the respondents who spoke to the human rights agency, insinuating they would not have given such testimonies if they were what he calls peace loving Borno citizens rather than Boko Haram.
The Defence spokesperson concluded from a synthesis of what he observed to be discrepancies in the report that the military does not detain civilians unlawfully. He then returned to characterizing the report as a deliberate attempt to discredit the Nigerian military in the fight against insurgency and terrorism in the Northeast. He is urging Nigerians to not only discountenance but also resist that.
What the military’s response brings to the table is the question of what might constitute an acceptable sample size in that fact finding. It will keep methodologists debating for quite sometimes. But, is that the sort of debate that is needed or attention of all to the conditions that brings about violent conflicts?