Nigerian government rejects Reuters report on abortion programme

Fati, a Nigerian woman who told Reuters she received an abortion under a secret program run by the Nigerian military, poses for a portrait in an undisclosed location in Nigeria, October 14, 2021. REUTERS/Paul Carsten

The Nigerian government rejects a Reuters report published last week about a secret programme of abortions run by the military in the country’s northeast, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Monday.

The Reuters investigation found that since 2013, a secret military programme has involved terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls, many of whom had been kidnapped and raped by Islamist militants.

The sources included dozens of witness accounts and documentation reviewed by Reuters.

“The Federal Government hereby categorically states that there is no ‘secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme’ being run by our military in the northeast or anywhere across the country,” he said in opening remarks at a public event in Abuja.

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“We also hereby reject the accusation of running an abortion programme levelled at our military,” he said.

Mohammed’s comments were the first by a Nigerian government official since the report was published last week.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on Nigerian authorities to investigate the allegations, U.N spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Mohammed did not say whether there would be such an investigation by authorities.

Nigeria’s defence chief has said the military will not investigate the Reuters report, saying it was not true.