Two members of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday urged US President Joe Biden to cancel an over $1 billion arms deal with Nigeria.
This follows a Reuters story on unlawful abortions and the deliberate slaughter of children by the Nigerian military.
Members of the subcommittee on Africa Sara Jacobs, a Democrat from California, and Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, both called for a review of the security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria, along with a risk assessment of civilian casualties and abuses brought on by the arms assistance.
“We write to express our concern with current U.S. policy on and military support to Nigeria,” the lawmakers said.
Support for Nigeria’s security has been combined with instructions on adhering to international law.
However, the lawmakers said that humanitarians had informed them that Nigeria’s security forces “appear to have a limited understanding of humanitarian law and tools for effective engagement with local populations.”
The Congress members said, “There are reports of weapons captured by insurgents, and the assistance provided by Washington so far has done little to quell the 14-year conflict between the Nigerian military and Islamist insurgents in the country’s northeast.”
“Therefore, we believe continuing to move forward with the nearly $1 billion arms sale would be highly inappropriate and we urge the Administration to rescind it,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
After senators on both sides of the aisle halted the agreement over worries about additional rights violations, the U.S. State Department approved the largest-ever arms sale and other military assistance to Nigeria in April.
This is the second time recently that Congress has asked for a review. U.S. Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sought a review of U.S. security aid and cooperation programs in Nigeria and the potential use of penalties for alleged abuses after the Reuters reports were published in December.
“I look forward to hearing more about the (State) Department’s planned response to the serious athatnd abhorrent allegations levied against a long-standing beneficiary of U.S. security assistance and cooperation which, if deemed credible, have done irreparable harm to a generation of Nigerian citizens and to U.S. credibility in the region,” the Idaho senator said in the letter.
The Reuters investigation discovered that the Nigerian military has been carrying out a covert, organized, and illegal abortion program in the nation’s northeast since at least 2013, terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.
Islamist extremists had kidnapped and sexually assaulted many of them. Witnesses claimed that those who refused orders were beaten, held at gunpoint, or coerced to use drugs.
Nigerian military commanders denied the existence of the operation and claimed that Reuters’ article was a result of an international campaign to discredit the nation’s efforts to combat rebels.
According to Reuters, the Nigerian Army and its allies have killed children throughout their long 13-year conflict with Islamist extremists in the northeast of the country. According to Nigerian military commanders who spoke to Reuters, the army has never killed children as a goal.
The U.S. departments of state and defence, the German foreign ministry, the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch all demanded that the Nigerian government look into the “Nightmare in Nigeria” Reuters series. According to human rights experts, the army may have committed war crimes.
Nigeria’s defense ministry agreed to assist in an investigation being conducted by the Nigerian Commission on Human Rights in the wake of international outrage.