Eleven Nigerian police officers found responsible for sexual misconduct while serving in a United Nations peacekeeping force in Congo have been suspended, Nigeria’s police chief said Monday.
Among those who breached U.N. rules on sexual misconduct was the head of the contingent, Chief Superintendent of Police Anthony Okon, according to the statement Monday from the police chief, Sunday Ehindero.
Okon and 10 others from the 120-member team, which was recalled to Nigeria earlier this month, have been suspended from the force, it said. No details of the allegations against them were given.
“No member of this contingent will ever go on a peace mission or other assignments outside this country,” Ehindero said.
Mike Okiro, a top-ranking police officer in charge of operations, headed the panel of inquiry, traveling out to Congo to look into the accusations. According to local media reports, the Nigerian ambassador to Congo had issued his own report on the sexual misconduct, prompting the strong response from Nigerian authorities.
The reputation of the United Nations in Congo has suffered greatly from the sex abuse allegations, which started emerging around the eastern town of Bunia in early 2004. The victims included girls as young as 13.
About 150 cases were reported. According to UN officials in Congo, action has so far been taken against 17 civilians in the Congo mission.
Some 16,700 U.N. peacekeepers are deployed in Congo to help secure a peace deal that ended the 1998-2002 war which involved half a dozen African nations.