Monday, April 10, 2017 7:30 pm
The United States is now set to sell high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for the battle against Boko Haram Islamic extremists, Associated Press, AP has reported.
According to the news agency, the US Congress is expected to receive formal notification that will set in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The deal will involve the purchase of up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million by Nigeria, AP quoted an unnamed official of Trump administration as saying.
AP however noted that though President Donald Trump has made clear his intention to approve the sale of the aircraft, the National Security Council is still working on the issue.
Military sales to several other countries are also expected to be approved but are caught up in an ongoing White House review. Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015.
The Nigerian air force has been accused of bombing civilian targets at least three times in recent years. In the worst incident, a fighter jet on Jan. 17 repeatedly bombed a camp at Rann, near the border with Cameroon, where civilians had fled from Boko Haram. Between 100 and 236 civilians and aid workers were killed, according to official and community leaders’ counts.
That bombing occurred on the same day the Obama administration intended to officially notify Congress the sale would go forward. Instead, it was abruptly put on hold, according to an individual who worked on the issue during Obama’s presidency. Days later, Trump was inaugurated.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said this past week that he supported the A-29 deal to Nigeria as well as the sale of U.S.-made fighter jets to Bahrain that had been stripped of human rights caveats imposed by the Obama administration.
“We need to deal with human rights issues, but not on weapons sales,” Corker said.
The State Department said in a 2016 report that the Nigerian government has taken “few steps to investigate or prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, and impunity remained widespread at all levels of government.”
Amnesty International has accused Nigeria’s military of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 8,000 Boko Haram suspects. President Muhammadu Buhari promised to investigate the alleged abuses after he won office in March 2015, but no soldier has been prosecuted and thousands of people remain in illegal military detention. Nigeria’s military has denied the allegations.