The recent attempt by the United Nations International Children Fund (UNICEF) through its Global Horizontal Notes (GHN) report accusing the Nigerian Military of violating the rights of children in the North East, has been described as a grand plot aimed at destabilising the military operations in the North East, a reliable source has informed this paper.
The source stated that the accusation from UNICEF, through its Nigerian office is the handiwork of some international agents, working in collaboration with some powerful interest aimed at influencing international perception against the soaring image of the Nigerian military as the first force to curtail terrorism within a short period of time.
“The allegations of use of underaged for warfare, rape of young girls in IDP camps are a grand plot to smear the name of the military and destabilize the operational spirit of the troops,” our source said. The source further added that there is an active French link in the evolving saga, given that one of the key players in the whole issues, Priscilla Kounkou Hoveyda, has worked in France and Iran.
“Priscilla Kounkou Hoveyda is a lawyer who has worked in both Iran and France, and you know the issues Nigeria has been having with France as regards Boko Haram insurgency and Iran with the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.” the source who pleaded anonymity stated.
“We cannot rule out the possibility of the influence of these countries. But there is a strong possibility we are dealing with a two hydra-headed sword in the person of Priscilla Kounkou Hoveyda” the source stated.
The source also stated that the second staff of UNICEF behind the report, Maher Farea has strong links with Yemen having worked there for the more significant part of his work life.
“Yemen is home to Maher Farea. He started work with a Micro Finance Bank in Yemen in 2009 and has worked ever in Yemen before he was transferred to Nigeria and deployed to the Northeast. This trend is also suspect, hence his involvement in the whole saga” our source stated.
It was also revealed that UNICEF didn’t only concoct that story, but it also did that to spark controversy and dampened the morale of the fighting troops and operations commanders. The source further added that the UNICEF story has some inputs from Amnesty International (AI).
“Amnesty International is in the background of the report. They explored the UNICEF option because of credibility issues as regards their operations. So they felt that for maximum damage, they enlisted the support of a recognized organization, who ironically had staffers who were compromised easily.” He stated.
Another source who works with UNICEF in their North East Operations stated that the trio of Priscilla Kounkou Hoveyda, Maher Farea, and Milen Kidane have been in the thick of UNICEF activities in the North East and they are aware of the efforts of the military towards the protection of women and children evident in the rescue of over 5000 women and children from Boko Haram captivity in the past two months.
“ They know that the military command takes the issue of protection of women and children seriously and they have also been witness to disciplinary actions taken against errant soldiers in the line of action especially as it concerns the vulnerable group that consists of women, children and older people” he stated.
For UNICEF to now make such statements against the Nigeria military without any form of correspondence or verification from the relevant authorities, leaves many stones unturned. Since when has UNICEF become an investigative organization? I thought they are meant to provide humanitarian assistance” he asked.
A top military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity confided in this paper that the UNICEF story is a hoax meant to destabilize the operations of the military in the North East.
“The military high command in Operation Lafiya Dole is aware of the smear campaign launched by UNICEF. It is also aware of the influence of external forces, even received advanced intelligence information ahead of the proclamation by UNICEF. But as an organization that is guided by operational policies, and rules of engagement, the military command is taking the smear campaign plot in good strides, but also keeping the records straight. “He averred.
It would be recalled that since the Nigerian Army gained ascendency in its operations in the North East, there has been smear campaigns launched against it both from internal and external sources. This is despite the assurances given by the Theatre commander, Major General Rogers Nicholas that troops’ operations are guided by an operational code of conduct, Rules of Engagement, and respect for Fundamental Human Rights as well as International Humanitarian Laws.