US lifts its restrictions on arms supplies to Nigeria in bid to help fight Boko Haram

altWASHINGTON has finally agreed to lift its restrictions on arms sales to Nigeria under the Leahy Law to enable the government purchase weapons with which to conduct the war against Boko Haram terrorists.   Last year, the US refused to sell arms to Nigeria under its Leahy Law, claiming that the Nigerian Army was involved in human rights abuses and the killing of civilians. It was also believed that the US was unhappy with the way Boko Haram had infiltrated the Nigerian security forces and had access to their intelligence.   Following the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, however, the US appears to be keener to assist Nigeria and earlier this month, he was invited to the White House for talks with President Barack Obama. It is believed that President Obama immediately agreed to sell Nigeria Apache attack helicopters to be used in confronting Boko Haram.   Seen as a disciplinarian with a military background, President Buhari is regarded as a man who will confront Boko Haram and not tolerate human rights abuses by the army. Yesterday, a delegation of US congressmen led by Representative Darrel Issah, visited President Buhari in Abuja where it was revealed that the restrictions will be lifted.   Congressman Issah added that the lifting of restrictions was a fallout of the policy of the new military command with regards to the ongoing military operations in the country. America’s Leahy Law is a human rights provision that prohibits its Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that allegedly violate human rights.   After a closed-door meeting with service chiefs and ministry of defence officials in Abuja, Congressman Issah, said discussions centred on a wide range of issues, especially the area of technical support in fighting the Boko Haram terror group. He added that after the meeting, it was agreed that the US will come to Nigeria’s assistance.   “There were a number of things that were discussed at the meeting but basically the need for additional technical support including overhead surveillance. This was discussed because it is important in the fight against Boko Haram.   “This is because of the trust in the new regime which has begun the process of ensuring that the military’s professionalism in the battle field is made in a way that we all can be confident that the rule of law is followed. Following this development, we have began the process of lifting restriction under the Leahy Law but the vast majority of the support US provides will be given regardless of the restrictions,” Congressman Issah added.   He pointed out that US support will also include training, technical support and equipment supply. In addition, Congressman Issah said the US through its agencies in Nigeria would help to rebuild and rehabilitate communities and victims of insurgency in the northeast.

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