Army Withdraws Spying Allegations Against UNICEF, Lifts Suspension
It is not up to 24 hours since the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, was accused of spying for Boko Haram by the Nigerian military, and its activities in the northeast suspended.
But the Nigerian Army has now made a complete turnaround, withdrawing its allegations and lifting the suspension.
The army said it was because of “interventions by well-meaning and concerned Nigerians”.
The Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command’s Spokesperson and Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the lifting of the suspension in a statement issued on Saturday at about 10.50 p.m. local time.
Nwachukwu had earlier by 4:00 p.m. on Friday said the army had suspended the operations of UNICEF in the North-East theatre until further notice, adding that the UN agency had shifted from “its duty of catering to the well-being of children and the vulnerable through humanitarian activities and now engaged in training selected persons for clandestine activities”.
“Information within the reach of this Command specifically indicates that the organisation commenced the said training on Wednesday in Maiduguri and ended on Thursday.
"The Theatre Command will not tolerate this sabotage from any individual, group of persons or organisation,” the army’s terse statement partly read.
The UNICEF as of press time had not officially reacted to the military’s release.
Nwachukwu said: “The Theatre Command Operation convened and held an emergency meeting with representatives of UNICEF on Friday evening.
“During the meeting, the Theatre Command admonished the representatives of the organisation to desist from activities inimical to Nigeria’s national security and capable of undermining the ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency.
“Consequently, after extensive deliberations on the need to seek modalities to work harmoniously with the security agencies in the theatre of operation, the Theatre Command has henceforth lifted the three months suspension earlier imposed on UNICEF activities in North-East Nigeria".
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