Some United States lawmakers have halted the planned sale of arms worth $875 million to Nigeria over concerns about the President Muhammadu Buhari’s-led government’s human rights record.
But security sources have said the Federal Government was not bothered by the stance of the US lawmakers saying Nigeria had complied with all necessary agreement indices reached on government-to-government basis with the US.
A report in Foreign Policy, said Senate foreign relations committee comprising both Democrats and Republicans have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military.
According to the report, the lawmakers’ opposition was based on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s perceived human rights abuse and the #Endsars protests of 2020 that ended in crisis and banditry.
The report said the proposed arms sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions.
The report said behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
It explained that the development was fuelled by growing concerns that President Buhari is transforming into a dictator in Nigeria
According to the report, despite the battle against Boko Haram insurgents, western governments and international human rights organisations are being critical of the Buhari-led administration over the Twitter ban, systemic corruption issues, and the invasion of Lekki tollgate by soldiers during the #EndSARS protest in October 2020.
“Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it makes a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military is doing enough to minimise civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists,’’ the report said.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.
“But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.”