Apr 18, 2022 14:29 UTC
  • US approves $1bn arms sale to Nigeria despite dismal human rights record

The United States is set to supply Nigeria with advanced military equipment worth nearly $1 billion despite concerns over human rights issues in the African country.

The Department of State announced that Nigeria has been given the approval to acquire $997 million sales of 24 Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters and related equipment, including guidance, night vision, and targeting systems as well as engines and training support.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the State Department said in a notice to Congress.

It also aims to “better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability, build interoperability with the US and other Western partners, and will be a major contribution to US and Nigerian security goals.”

The approval of the arms sale comes amid US efforts to strengthen its foothold in Africa’s most populous country.

Last November, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during his visit to Nigeria that Washington regards the country as a partner in West Africa and the Sahel.

Late last month, the US announced plans for the construction of a $537 million consulate in Nigeria’s commercial capital city of Lagos.

The pro-American government in Nigeria has on multiple occasions been accused of suppressing anti-Abuja demonstrations, detaining high-profile political activists, and pressing baseless charges against minority religious leaders, including Nigeria’s most senior Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.

In December 2015, Nigeria’s military launched a crackdown as part of a deadly state-ordered escalation targeting Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) that Abuja has branded as illegal.

The campaign saw troops attacking Zakzaky’s residence in the town of Zaria in Kaduna, burning the whole house down and inflicting him and his wife serious injuries that reportedly caused the cleric to lose his left eye.

Moreover, Nigerian security forces have long been accused of committing human rights violations during their counterterrorism operations.