United States Congressmen yesterday met with Nigeria’s security chiefs on the ban and restrictions imposed on Nigeria for alleged human rights violations.
Nigeria has not been able to purchase ammunition from the United States to fight the Boko Haram terrorists because of the Leah Law which forbids the US government from selling arms to nations which violate human rights.
Security sources disclosed that when the two parties met yesterday, the issue was the only agenda that dominated their discourse at the National Defence College (NDC), Abuja.
The leader of the delegation, Rep Darrel Issah, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said that the talks were based on wide range of issues, especially the area of technical support in fighting Boko Haram.
“There were number of things that were discussed, basically the need for additional technical support, including overhead surveillance to fight Boko Haram. This is also important to stop the oil theft by pirates and other security challenges in the country,” he said.
The Congressman noted that both countries remain partners and allies despite the seemingly lack of support to the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan due to the limitations imposed by the controversial law.
He, however, said a window of opportunity had been opened with the emergence of the new administration and that a process had begun towards lifting of the Leah Law-induced ban on sale of weapons to Nigeria.
“The fact is that this new regime with the new (chief of) general staff (CDS and security chiefs) have begun process of ensuring that military professionalism for both civilians and combatants has been made in a way that we can both be confident that the rule of law is being obeyed. So the process has begun towards lifting the restrictions under the Leah Law,” he said.
“The vast majority of support the US provides will continue regardless of the restrictions. The support will also include training. Technical support and equipment supplies will never stop but will continue. We are working with the president (Muhammadu Buhari) and new General Staff to make sure that the people of Nigeria have the confidence in the professionalism of the military, something the people can rely on. We are looking forward to a great different relationship, a very proactive relationship.”
The permanent secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mr. Ismaila Aliyu, who spoke on behalf of the Nigeria Defence team, noted that the US believes in the country.
Said he: “They (US) have trust and confidence in Nigeria; that is why they are here. Also that the issue of human rights is addressed. The delegation from US Congress is on a visit to Nigeria as a follow-up to President Buhari’s visit (to the US). It is a great gain to the country and it has rekindled the hope and aspiration of the two countries.
“The US has trust in the president and people of Nigeria and is also very concerned about the security situation in Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin Area, which is one of the reasons for the visit – to discuss with the service chiefs.”
Aliyu stated that, at the meeting, the issue of insecurity and human rights was also discussed, adding that the US Congressmen were satisfied with the talks and expressed hope that things continue this way.
“Gaps that have been created before and identified are definitely going to be worked on and resolved,” he affirmed.