Tuesday, 20 November 2012
The Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State, Operation Restore Order,Monday refuted the allegation that it was involved in extra-judicial killings of members of the Boko Haram sect. The task force insisted that the film which Reuters claimed as evidence was stage managed.
The JTF said the allegation was another classic propaganda of the fundamentalists. A statement by its spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, warned the media against being drawn into a propaganda war instead of making objectivity their watchword.
Musa said there were severally cases of daylight killings of Nigerians and foreigners alike on the streets of Maiduguri and elsewhere by the terrorist group, which should have been criticised by both the Nigerian and international media but treated lightly.He said it was surprising that a film masterfully recorded by the Boko Haram sect to paint the efforts of the task force in bad light was given wide reportage.
Musa in the statement said: “The attention of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Restore Order has been drawn to some publications in some national dailies particularly in the Punch newspaper of Monday, November 12, 2012 Captioned “Soldier Filmed Colleagues Killing Captives in Maiduguri” and wishes to state that the JTF has severally debunked similar accusations in the past and has made it absolutely clear that there is no established case of extra-judicial killings, arrest or detention by the JTF in Maiduguri.
“We are professionally guided by a mandate and rules of engagement in the conduct of our operations. In our code of conduct and standing instructions, no JTF personnel is allowed to carry video or still camera and cellphones while on operations. It is therefore curious to note that the purported film referred to, circulated and reported by Reuters news agency and lifted by some national newspapers is allegedly filmed by a JTF soldier on operation,” Musa claimed.
He further said: “This film is stage managed and the allegation is baseless, terrorist-oriented, spurious and bunkum. I watched the film released, printed and scrutinised the three pictures used as the basis for the allegations and discovered that picture one was used as the cover page of the Amnesty International report that was released on November 8, 2012.
“The task force is worried that the same picture is again being used by Reuters News Agency that reported the picture was captured two weeks ago.Additionally, the bodies deposited in the pictures cannot be substantiated to be Boko Haram or those of innocent civilians.”
“Picture two had earlier been used to maliciously tarnish the image of a task force which operated in the middle belt sometimes in 2009. It is curious to notice that the same picture is still been used in November 2012 against the JTF.It is worthy of note that the reporter alleged that a JTF soldier recorded the event and gave them the film. This is found to be completely false as the person who did the so called recording cannot be a soldier as purported as a civilian with a camera can be obviously seen in the background of the picture. This picture has no bearing with the JTF operations and supposed secrecy or else, why should a civilian be in the background taken pictures and yet Reuters claimed the film and pictures were secretly released by a soldier,” Musa added.