Some lawmakers in the United States have asked President Joe Biden’s administration to rescind the nearly $1 billion helicopter sale to Nigeria over allegations of forced abortion committed by the nation’s security forces.
Mr Biden had in 2022 approved the sale of the 12 Viper attack helicopters to the President Muhammad Buhari-led regime.
The military aircraft was aimed at helping fight insurgency and promote security in Nigeria, one of Africa’s most populous countries.
But the U.S. Congress delayed the sale of the helicopter after raising concerns about the Nigerian army’s noncommitment to protecting civilians as it battles Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East.
Christ Smith, a congressman, had tackled the Nigerian military, noting that the armed forces had a consistent record of abuses and that past aid had done little to boost security.
“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,” he told Mr Biden in a letter this week.
The call made by the U.S. lawmakers is coming amid sporadic violence ahead of the February 25 elections in Nigeria.
Last year, the Nigerian military reportedly conducted a years-long illicit abortion programme among victims of Boko Haram, with some girls and women who refused, were beaten, held at gunpoint, or drugged.
The military denied the report.
When asked about the letter, a spokesperson for the State Department noted that the United States scrutinised the Nigerian forces before providing assistance.
“The Department does not provide assistance to a security force unit if there is credible information indicating the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights,” she said.
“We consistently raise concerns about credible allegations of human rights violations and abuses at the highest levels and urge the Nigerian government to thoroughly and transparently investigate and hold to account those responsible for wrongdoing,” he added.
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