The Borno State Commissioner of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo has said the concern of the state government at the rehabilitation camps is the high rate of pregnancies and procreation and not abortion.
Apart from early childhood diseases such as measles and diarrhea etc., the Commissioner recalled that frequent pregnancies among young women pose a challenge as some women take in after four months of previous deliveries.
The Commissioner, a trained journalist and former Special Assistant to the immediate past Governor of Borno state, Sen. Kashim Shetima made this disclosure before the Special Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations in Counter-Insurgency Operations in the North East (SIIP North-East).
She noted that such occurrences (pregnancies) consequently diminish the ability of such women to properly breastfeed two babies whose age gap is negligible, given that the difference between their dates of birth is negligible.
According to the Mass Media professional, one man had his four wives put to bed on the same day and the Ministry usually makes the necessary intervention to ensure their welfare.
On the impact of the insurgency concerning the lives of the vulnerable group, the state Executive Member disclosed that of the 93,000 returnees including men and women, 78,000 of them are farmers who were forcefully abducted by the Boko Haram members in the heat of the insurgency in the North East.
Testifying before the panel Chaired by Justice Abdu Aboki (rtd), Hajiya Gambo said that the state government through the Ministry of Women Affairs camped many women, children and couples returning from the bush around Banki, Dambua, Goza, Mungonu.
After profiling at the Hajj camp, the former Special Assistant to Niger state government on Media Matters said it usually becomes clearer as to who among the returnees are farmers or combatants, and those who are fighters will be taken to Joint Investigation Centre for further action, while the farmers will be taken to Hajj camp for rehabilitation.
She revealed that the state Ministry of Women Affairs overseas Hajj camp and two others which include Shokari and Bwumkutu camps and that Bwumkutu camp harbours children, women and men who do not pose a security risk to the camp and the larger society.
According to her, Reuters’ report came as a surprise pointing out that the Ministry or any of its agencies has not recorded any case of abortion or massacre of children as alleged by Reuters and that women and children in the said camps are given the basic care and support by the state government.
On the possibility of the military or any person administering drugs like oxytocin to abort pregnancies of women and girls in the rehabilitation camps, she said it is not true because according to her, soldiers are not allowed in these camps apart from guarding the entrance and the perimeter of the camps.
“The women are emotionally attached to their husbands and the allegation that soldiers or other public servants could abort pregnancies of their beloved wives is unimaginable”, the Commissioner added.
According to her, the men at some point complained to the representatives of the state in the camps that they would not want their wives to be attended to by men, so she wondered how such “jealous men” could allow anyone to touch their wives let alone aborting their pregnancies.
Asked by the panel Secretary, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna if these rehabilitation camps have witnessed casualties resulting from secret abortions that the authorities are not aware of, she answered in the negative, adding that some casualties involving children in the camps are usually as a result of early childhood diseases like measles and diarrhea etc.