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Nigeria’s military suspends UNICEF operations, alleging terrorist sympathies

The Nigerian military has released a statement calling for the suspension of operations carried out by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in the North East of Nigeria, accusing the organisation of having terrorist sympathies.

The statement was signed off by Onyema Nwachukwu, a colonel and deputy director public relations however, it remains unclear whether the military gained the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari before making this declaration.

In its statement the military alleges UNICEF “train and deploy spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers”.

UNICEF has yet to respond to the allegations but told Reuters, “we are verifying the information now and will get back to you with any new information”. 

The Nigerian military maintains that part of the effort to weaken the counter insurgency efforts is “through spurious and unconfirmed allegations … [of]  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 safe guard them from wanton destruction of property and means the of livelihood," the military added. 

In April, three UNICEF employees were alleged to have leaked information of Nigerian security forces sexually abusing children in the northeast. The military had since declared them persona non grata.