The Nigerian army has denied conducting a years-long “illicit programme” to carry out abortions among women and girls who have been victims of Boko Haram militants, calling the report “a body of insults on the Nigerian peoples and culture.”
Reuters reported that the Nigerian military has “conducted a secret, systematic and illegal abortion program in the country’s northeast, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls”, since at least 2013. The news agency added that when the women were rescued by the Nigerian military, many of those who were pregnant were forced to abort, often without their consent while they were held in military custody for weeks or months. Reuters was unable to establish who created the abortion programme or determine who in the military or government ran it.
Nigerian military leaders have denied the programme has ever existed and said Reuters reporting was part of a foreign effort to undermine the country’s fight against the insurgents.
Boko Haram, for more than a decade, has been waging an armed insurgency against Nigeria, especially in the country’s north-east region, leading to the loss of thousands of lives. The long-running conflict, which has spilled into neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, has killed over 40,000 people and displaced about two million.