The United States of America has reportedly started to assist Nigeria in its efforts to stop the deadly Boko Haram insurgency.
James Entwistle, the US ambassador to Nigeria, disclosed in an interview with The Punch that the US is ready to ship weapons to Nigeria.
He also said that the US government never put an arms embargo on the country.
“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding on this issue before, during and after President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Washington. Let me be clear about a couple of things. One, we had worked very closely with Nigeria on the Leahy Amendment….The second piece of misinformation, which has been bandied about in (newspapers’) headlines, is that the US has lifted its arms embargo on Nigeria. There was never an arms embargo,” he said.
The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency records show that the country’s Department of Defence is set to transport army material to Nigeria, Radio France Internationale reports.
The radio stated that a DSCA list of “so-called Excess Defence Articles” slated for Nigeria specified that the US military was about to transfer Caiman trucks, armoured vehicles designed “to defeat current and emerging threats.”
It added that the US government was also transporting armoured vehicles known as MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), made by Navistar Defence, an Illinois company, and Israeli-based Plasan Sasa.
It is unknown which Nigerian army units will get the equipment, but the report said that the US government had confirmed that deliveries were pending.
Noel Clay, the spokesman for the US state department, speaking on the development, said: “The United States is set to expand its efforts to provide bilateral security assistance to Nigeria to counter Boko Haram. We will refer you to the Nigerian MoD to confirm the arrival of any US-origin material, but we can say that a key component of our security assistance to Nigeria in recent years has been training on the importance of respect for human rights and professional military conduct.
“Impunity for human rights violations by security forces not only tarnishes Nigeria’s reputation, but cannot prohibit us from engaging with involved units. We will continue to work with the Nigerian military to ensure they conduct disciplined military operations in accordance with clear rules of engagement and international law; treat all detainees humanely; allow access for independent monitors to all detention facilities; and hold accountable the perpetrators of unlawful violence.”
President Buhari during his four-day USA state visit accused America of assisting Boko Haram because of its refusal to let Nigeria have access to the much needed army arsenal to fight and quell the six-year insurgency.
There have been reports that the United States had placed an embargo on sales of arms to Nigeria and that it had prevented the oil-rich nation from obtaining arms to prosecute a counter terrorism operation in the north-east.