U.S Insists On Not Selling Fighter Helicopters To Nigeria

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The United States government has revealed that it would not sell cobra helicopters to the Nigerian Government to help fight the Boko Haram insurgency ravaging the North-eastern part of the country.

U.S refusal to sell cobra helicopters to the Nigerian government was made known on Wednesday by the State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, while feeding questions from journalists on the allegations made by the Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye that Washington refused to sell lethal arms to Nigeria.

The spokeswoman, who defended the U.S, said the Federal Government is free to buy fighter jets from any other country.

“Nigeria has purchased helicopters that originated in countries other than the US and nothing in our decision prevents Nigeria from obtaining weapons and equipment from other sources,” Psaki said.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian envoy to the U.S told members of the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday that Washington was not doing enough to assist Nigeria in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in North-Eastern region of the nation.

 “The U.S. government has up till today refused to grant Nigeria’s request to purchase lethal equipment that would have brought down the terrorists within a short time on the basis of the allegations that Nigeria’s defence forces have been violating human rights of Boko Haram suspects when captured or arrested. We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria, with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly,” Adefuye reportedly said.

Psaki, however, hinted that the US declined to sell the fighter helicopters to Nigeria because of its concerns about the ability of the military to use and maintain them.

She explained that the cobra helicopter is a combat aircraft with the ability to climb at the rate of 8.2metres per second, and that it is equipped with a 20 mm M197 3-barrelled Gatling cannon in the A/A49E-7 turret (750 rounds ammo capacity).

Psaki further revealed that the U.S was also concerned about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations, as well as the violation of human rights. She said the aforementioned reasons have been discussed with the Nigerian government.

“Earlier this year, we denied the transfer of some cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations. We shared those concerns with Nigeria before this decision and subsequent to it. We’ll continue to look for ways to deepen our cooperation with Nigeria to help it acquire the systems and skills needed to restore peace and security. But obviously, we’ve provided a great deal of assistance over the past several months,” she said.

The department of states spokeswoman also cleared the air that Washington would not have raised concerns about possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian military if they (U.S) didn’t feel and other countries didn’t feel that the Nigerian military was warranted.

Psaki promised the Federal Government that the US   was ready to help Nigeria train and improve the effectiveness of its military personnel, and pleaded with the Nigerian government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses leveled on its military.

Psaki, who stated that the US valued its long standing relationship with Nigeria, added that Washington had been offering various forms of assistance to Nigeria, including sharing intelligence with its armed forces.

“Let me just lay out the facts of our assistance: Over the past six months, the United States has started sharing intelligence with Nigeria, began training a new army battalion and held numerous high-level discussions with Nigerian authorities on additional measures to best address the Boko Haram threat. We have also provided and approved sales of military equipment to its armed forces. These decisions are made, of course, after careful scrutiny to ensure they conform with the US law,” Psaki said.

Meanwhile, the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, could not be reached for comments on the issue as calls made to his mobile telephone were not connecting. He did not also respond to the text message sent to him.

However, when the Director, Communications Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ogbole Ahmedu-Ode, was contacted, he said: “I am in transit right now and I am hearing about this from you for the first time, I can’t comment on it. You may ask the Defence Headquarters.”

Meanwhile, before the U.S finally came out clean to reveal that it would not sell cobra helicopters to the Nigerian government, the the United States government had initially debunked the reports that the country has refused to sell arms to the Nigerian government based on human rights violation in the fight against terrorists group, Boko Haram, in the country.

However, a group known as the Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), on November 12, 2014, challenged the United States government to provide more concrete support to Nigeria’s fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Culled from: http://www.naij.com/323207-u-s-insists-on-not-selling-fighter-helicopters-to-nigeria.html

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