The Biden administration will be in office this April approved the sale of 12 AH-1Z Attack Helicopters and other related military equipment to the Nigerian government for $997 million.
U.S. officials claim the sale will support national security objectives by improving Nigeria’s ability to fight the extremist group Boko Haram. But sales of weapons like these come with major human rights risks for the Nigerian population — risks U.S. officials should be taking more seriously.
The 30-day deadline for Congress to stop the administration issuing a Letter Of Offer and Acceptance was May 14th. However, they can still adopt legislation to prevent or modify the sale up to the delivery of the military equipment.
Last July was when details of the deal first were presented to lawmakers. they raised concerns about the Nigerian government’s human rights record, which delayed the deal. Now, before letting the sale go forward, Congress should be asking more questions about what assurances the Biden administration has that Nigerians’ rights will not be violated with this new influx of military equipment
The United States says it has partnered militarily with Nigerian forces because it sees Nigeria’s legitimate and serious security concerns, including the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria and the burgeoning banditry crisisThe northwest has a number of interesting things to offer. priorityThe U.S. also has this option.
Several states in Nigeria’s northwest region are currently plagued by the activities of armed gangs. Many of these gangs began as vigilante and militia groups formed to protect their communitiesDisputes between farmers, nomadic herdsmen, and others over land or other resources can quickly escalate, and authorities fail to respond.
The groups, especially those associated with nomadic herders became powerful criminal gangs with sophisticated weaponry capable of killing, pillaging, torturing, and kidnapping people, including children. school children, for ransom.
The gangs themselves abuse people’s rights. In response, the Nigerian security force has often violated human right and killed civilians.
Indeed several incidents, including airstrikes on civilian communitiesIn February and September, it was evident that Nigerian security force are not doing enough for civilian casualties when they engage in security operations.
The February airstrike near the country’s border with Niger, which the authorities claimed was an error, killed seven children and injured five more. Nine children were killed and 23 others were injured in the September incident. Human Rights Watch and other groups documented gross violations of human rights by the Nigerian military, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killingsWithin and outside the context of the nation’s security crises.
The Nigerian security forces were causing serious harm to Nigerians, which led the US President Barrack Obama in 2015 to block the sale to Nigeria of military equipment. But President Donald Trump allowed sales to resume.
U.S. authorities have saidThe new sale will include training for Nigeria’s military on laws of armed conflict, human rights, and air to ground integration, in order to minimize civilian injury during air operations.
These training sessions were offered in the past, however. continueWe continue to witness Nigerian forces causing civilian harm and violating international laws. We continue to see the same Nigerian forces continue to suffer no consequences for their actions. This only fosters more grievances, and perpetuates the cycle of conflict.
It’s hard to see the U.S. pledge to educate Nigerian forces on the dos and don’ts of military operations as anything more than a weak attempt to acknowledge human rights risks while going ahead with the arms sales. What’s needed instead is high-level policymaker engagement. Congress should be asking difficult questions to the Biden administration.
First, is Nigerian force doing more harm than good fighting Boko Haram by also causing harm for ordinary Nigerians. What plans do you have to track the use of U.S. military equipment by Nigerian forces? How will Nigerian authorities hold their military forces responsible for civilian casualties?
The U.S. policymakers are legally boundto ensure they don’t equip abusive militaries. There are serious doubts at the moment that this military sale Nigeria meets this basic standard. Congress should press Biden to show that it can achieve this for the benefit of Nigerians caught in conflict and insecurity.