The United States Senate has blocked the sale of weapons and military equipment to the Nigerian government, as a result of its constant abuse of human rights, one which is evident in the killing of #EndSARS protesters in Lagos, U.S. officials say.
Foreign Policy reported that the lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, 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, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
Senator Bob Menendez, the chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the U.S. State Department to Congress in January before then-former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has relied on U.S. arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges: the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s northwest, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.
The State Department describes the US-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa”.