The presidency yesterday fired back at Amnesty International (AI), saying the global rights group was supporting terrorist groups like the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which it accused of amassing a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs in various parts of the country.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the latest salvo by Amnesty International at Nigeria was more of the same.
Mr Shehu was reacting to the latest report by Amnesty International, urging the Nigerian government to end enforced disappearance in the country.
AI noted that families affected by enforced disappearance live through unimaginable torment, adding that when people vanish without a trace, with the acquiescence of the state who then denies all knowledge, it is impossible to move on.
But hitting back at the global rights group, the president said AI chose to take sides with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder.
Shehu stated: “Speaking the language of universal human rights, Amnesty International deploys it only in defence – even outright promotion – of those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria. Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences. This puts them in bad company. Controversial American lobbyists are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do the same, laundering IPOB’s reputation in Washington DC.
“IPOB murder Nigerian citizens. They kill police officers and military personnel and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country. Were this group in a western country, you would not expect to hear Amnesty’s full-throated defence of their actions. Instead, there would be silence or mealy-mouthed justification of western governments’ action to check the spread of “terrorism.”
“Despite Amnesty’s self-proclaimed mandate to impartially transcend borders, unfortunately in Nigeria they play only domestic politics. The international NGO is being used as cover for the organisation’s local leaders to pursue their self-interests. Regrettably, this is not uncommon in Africa. There is nothing wrong with an activist stance; there are claims of neutrality, when all facts point to the opposite.
Amnesty International has no legal right to exist in Nigeria. It must open a formal investigation into the personnel that occupy their Nigerian offices. They should reject the outrageously tendentious misinformation they receive and bring some semblance of due diligence to the sources they base their claims on. Currently, we see none.”
The presidential spokesman further noted that the federal government will continue to combat terrorism with all the means at its disposal.
“We will ignore Amnesty’s rantings. Especially when it comes from an organisation that does not hold itself to the same standards it demands of others”, he added.