The US Congress has held back a proposed arms sale to Nigeria over the human rights record of the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari; with the recent clampdown on #EndSARS protests and alleged shooting of campaigners at Lekki and systemic corruption, among others, cited.
The arms sale deal is reportedly worth over $8oom and involves the acquisition of attack helicopters and other sophisticated weapons.
The opposition to the arms deal came from senior Democrats and Republicans on the US Congress Foreign Relations Committee. This was disclosed in a report released on Tuesday, July 27 by Foreign Policy magazine. Specifically, the concerns expressed by the members of Congress centre around perceived dictatorial tendencies by the Buhari administration; especially in view of the balance needed in ensuring that human rights violations do not escalate with the acquisition of more cutting-edge weaponry; in the light of the ongoing war against insurgency being prosecuted by the government.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised over the government’s handling of the #EndSARS protests which rocked Nigeria in October 2020; as well as the alleged shooting of unarmed protesters; the recent ban of the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and corruption-related matters in Nigeria.
1st News reports that some members of the US Congress have even called for a rethink of US engagement with Nigeria.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January. This was before Joe Biden was inaugurated as President.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has already taken delivery of six out of the 12 Tucano jet fighters bought from the US government.
In addition to the helicopters, other items in the proposed arms deal are 28 helicopter engines; These were produced by GE Aviation. Also included are 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell; as well as 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions.
These were disclosed in the information sent by the State Department to US Congress and reviewed by the Foreign Policy magazine.