Emerging report indicates that the United States of America, USA, Lawmakers have blocked the proposed sale of attack 12 war helicopters to the President Muhammadu Buhari Federal Government of Nigeria.
The blockage was as a result of mounting concerns about the President Buhari administration’s human rights record, as it grapples with multiple security crises.
The US Lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reportedly delayed clearing the proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, and accompanying defence systems, to the Nigerian Military.
The deal is worth $875 million, according to US Officials and Congressional Aides familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems-laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy magazine.
A report by Foreign Policy said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington Policy Makers, over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
The hold on the sale also showcases how powerful US Lawmakers want to push the President Joe Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria, amid overarching concerns that President Buhari is drifting towards authoritarianism, as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including the boko haram insurgency.
However, Western Governments and International Human Rights Organisations have ramped up their criticisms of the President Buhari Federal Government, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian Military’s role in the deadly crackdowns on EndSARS protesters, last October.
The Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, had called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria, during a Senate hearing with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, a top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple US Officials and Congressional Aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy, on condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January, before then-former Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as President, according to Officials familiar with the matter.
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