June 18, 2024

NIGERIA Global News

Human Rights Issues Overlooked As the US Approves Arms Sales To Nigeria

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The United States has recently approved nearly $1bn in weapon sales to Nigeria. Despite calls from legislators to suspend the deal over concerns of possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian government.

 

It has been reported that the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee laid an embargo on the sale of 12 AH-1Z cobra attack helicopters made by Bell.

 

Nigeria is on the frontlines in the battle against the notorious terrorist group, Boko Haram (one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups), kidnappers, and bandits, and plays a pivotal role in the world’s economic efforts in combating extremists group in the Sahel region of West Africa.

 

This problem opposes western governments and international human rights organizations’ reluctance to back the United States from approving arms sales to Nigeria over their potential culpability in the massacre of her Citizens. A good example is a peaceful protest by the citizens against police brutality in October 2020.

 

In 2021, United State Senator and chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez called for a fundamental rethink of the framework of the United States’ overall engagement with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S Secretary of State Anthony Bliken.

 

The supposed purchase of arms by the Nigerian government was said to include 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2000 advanced precision kills weapon systems —laser-guided rocket munitions.

 

This information was per the statement of the United States Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy in 2021.

 

Despite wide criticism of the obvious Human rights violations by the Nigerian government and her military,  the US Department of State on Thursday 14th of April 2022, resolved to approve the sale of the attack helicopters worth $997m.

 

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa,” a statement about the sale.

 

It should be noted that Nigeria has always relied on the U.S. armory transactions in years for combating challenges fazed with security which include the 13-year insurgency by the notorious Boko Haram militants in the north-eastern region of the country, an alarming number of kidnappings for ransom rates (mostly targeted at school children in the Country’s North-West region, toxic and life-threatening clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land, and now the current unrest in the eastern region.

 

Meanwhile, analysts have feared that the constant invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Military could lead to Nigeria sourcing arms from China following the sanctions on Russia and Belarus, which have had a fruitful history of military partnerships with the West African state.

 

In the wake of these arms approval by the United States to Nigeria, some experts still insist that the United States should hit the pause button on major defense sales until it makes a wider assessment of the level at which corruption and mismanagement leapfrog the Nigerian Military and also gauge the efforts of the military in addressing civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.

 

In 2021, Judd Devermont, director of the African program at the center for strategic and international studies, was quoted as follows “There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military, but it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflicts in Nigeria, and two, that they will use it consistently with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.”

 

Police brutality has become one of the most worrisome and life-threatening acts by the armed forces on vulnerable Nigerian youths. This toxic relationship between the Nigerian police force and the youths has claimed thousands of lives, more to the detriment of the youths.

 

There are also large insecurity concerns in Nigeria as the North-East region is a red zone. People are being constantly terrorized, kidnapped, and killed by extremists and other malicious groups that are fast gaining ground on Nigerian soil.

 

The recent attack which was the erratic bombings of the Kaduna Airport and railway in 3 days, was a big blow to the country’s military capability as there were no visible actions by the military to counter-attack these terrorist groups.

 

Sadly, there is a huge misplaced priority in the Nigerian armed force space as most of its powers, tactics, and equipment are utilized only against Nigerian youths (mostly unharmed). The October 2020 EndSARS protest is a big piece of evidence.

 

In the past, the United States has proposed arms sales to Nigeria on a case-by-case excuse. It was reported that the Former United States president, Barrack Obama’s administration reversed arm sales to Nigeria over fears of civilian casualties and human rights abuses, including the interruption of the 2014 sale of cobra helicopters by Israel.

 

However, the Nigerian military has always dismissed reports on human rights abuses by its soldiers as baseless and accused human rights groups of inciting the world against them, as well as undermining the military’s abilities to tackle terrorism.

 

All fingers are crossed as to how prudent and effective the recent approval of arms by the United States to Nigeria will be utilized. Will it be used to serve its purpose against an insurgency or will it be launched as always against Nigerian youths? The future will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

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