The U.S. Department of State says it is “deeply troubled” by recent allegations of a forced abortion program on more than 10,000 Nigerian women and has communicated its concerns to the Nigerian government, The Christian Post reported Dec. 15.
The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, is seeking information from Nigerian authorities regarding evidence of a massive, forced-abortion program that was the subject of a Dec. 7 Reuters report.
According to Reuters, the program’s victims are pregnant women rescued from Islamic jihadist camps in Nigeria. Reuters’ article describes Nigerian soldiers and medical personnel brutalizing women, most of whom suffered repeated rape at the hands of jihadists, and performing both chemical and surgical abortions in unsanitary conditions.
A spokesperson for the State Department said in a statement to The Christian Post, “We have encouraged the government of Nigeria to take the allegations seriously and to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, and we will continue to do so.”
The spokesperson added that the State Department takes human rights violations of this nature “very seriously,” according to The Christian Post.
News of Nigeria’s forced abortion program came a week before leaders from more than 40 African nations, including Nigeria, gathered in Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was also present for the summit amid protests from religious-rights organizations such as the LEAH Foundation, a Nigeria-based advocacy group for women.
“It is very sad that despite all the previous evidence and these new accusations that President Buhari has been invited to join other African leaders on the world stage with President Biden,” Gloria Puldu, president of the LEAH Foundation, said this week. “Why is brutal Buhari being treated like a favored guest of the United States? The leadership Buhari has provided should not be elevated but rather prosecuted.”
The Nigerian government and military have denied any wrongdoing.
“The federal government hereby categorically states that there is no ‘secret, systematic, and illegal abortion program’ being run by our military in the northeast or anywhere across the country,” Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed said in a public statement Monday.
Mohammed called the Reuters report “a body of insults on the Nigerian peoples and culture.”
A spokesperson for the State Department told The Christian Post: “We have raised the allegations with the government of Nigeria and continue to seek information. We were not aware of this allegation prior to the Reuters story. We are still reviewing the (Reuters) report and will make decisions about next steps thereafter.”