Nursing the recent loss of more than 100 soldiers to jihadist, the upset and other issues have forced the Nigerian Army to declare activities of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in the North-East as sabotage.
The Army has therefore suspended the operations of the UN body in the war-torn region until further notice.
The Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, which coordinates the Boko Haram anti-insurgency war in the North-East, ordered the suspension of UNICEF from north east where more than 36,000 people have died and many more others homeless since 2009 Boko Haram’s insurrection.
According the Army spokesperson, Col Onyema Nwachukwu, UNICEF had shifted from “its duty of catering to the wellbeing of children and the vulnerable through humanitarian activities and now engages in training selected persons for clandestine activities.”
The Operation Lafiya Dole Command claimed on Friday that UNICEF was “sabotaging the counter-terrorism efforts” of troops through “spurious and unconfirmed allegations bordering on alleged violations of human rights by the military”.
“It is baffling to note that some of these organisations have been playing the terrorists’ script with the aim to continue demoralising the troops who are doing so much to protect the lives of victims of Boko Haram terrorism and safeguard them from wanton destruction of property and means of livelihood.
“Consequently, the Theatre Command is suspending the operations of UNICEF in the North-East theatre until further notice.
“This has become inevitable since the organisation has abdicated its primary duty of catering for the wellbeing of children and the vulnerable through humanitarian activities and now engages in training selected persons for clandestine activities to continue sabotaging the counter-terrorism efforts.
“The Theatre Command will not tolerate this kind of sabotage from any individual, group of persons or organisation.
“We call on all Non-Governmental Organisations and members of humanitarian agencies to keep to their legitimate norms in the discharge of their acclaimed humanitarian duties.”
The UNICEF had yet to officially react to the military’s release.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari claimed that Boko Haram had been technically defeated and occupied territories recovered, recent upsurge in insurgency has cast doubt on the achievement.
In the aftermath of the loss of its men, the military last week re-organised its command structure and deployed more intelligence and weapon, including air force, in North East to give stronger bite to the battle against Boko Haram.
The military had last year threatened to take major action against some international organisations, including UNICEF and Amnesty International, for perceived clandestine activities in the region.