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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

CURRENT AFFAIRS: America 'begins Process' To Lift Arms Embargo On Nigeria

United States congressman Darrel Issah says the US government has already “begun the process” of relaxing or completely lifting the restriction on military assistance imposed on Nigeria under the Leahy Law. The Leahy Law is a US human rights law that prohibits the US department of state and department of defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that allegedly violate human rights with impunity. Issah dropped the hint while fielding questions from journalists shortly after meeting with service chiefs and officials of the ministry of defence in Abuja on Monday.

He said the development was occasioned by the policy of the new military command with regards to the ongoing military operations in the country.

“There were a number of things that were discussed at the meeting but basically the need for additional technical support including overhead surveillance,” he said.

“This was discussed because it is important in the fight against Boko Haram. This is because of the trust in the new regime, which has begun the process of ensuring that the military’s professionalism in the battlefield is made in a way that we all can be confident that the rule of law is followed.

“Following this development, we have begun the process of lifting restriction under the Leahy Law but the vast majority of the support US provides will be given regardless of the restrictions.”

Issah said the US will provide other forms of support that will not only boost the military’s capabilities but will also create the environment to rebuild devastated communities.

He said the US, through its agencies in Nigeria, will help rebuild and rehabilitate communities and victims of insurgency in the northeast.

“We are looking forward to working with the president and the military to rebuild the confidence of the people of Nigeria in the professionalism of the military,” he said.

“To make the military something that the people will rely on as the nation tries to clear insurgents and protect the civilians; that is important to the new president of Nigeria, our president and it is also important to the congress.

“But we are looking forward to a great difference in the relationship, a proactive relationship and one in which we can provide a greater level of support.”

On his part, the permanent secretary, ministry of defence, Ismaila Aliyu, described the visit as a sign of the renewed confidence in Nigeria’s military on the global scene.

He said Nigeria now enjoys a greater level of confidence and trust in the international community, saying that it would impact positively on the nation’s efforts in repositioning its economy.

“The US. believes in Nigeria, they have trust and confidence in Nigeria, that is why they are here,” he said.

“On the issue of human rights, the US is pleased with what we have been doing in recent times to address the gaps that may have existed in the past.

“This visit is a follow up to Mr President’s visit to the US. We have said it and will continue to state that the visit was of great benefit to Nigeria; it has rekindled confidence in the relations between the two countries.”

Issah led a delegation from the US congress judicial committee to the meeting with Nigeria’s top ranking defence officials.

Other issues that dominated discussions between officials of the two countries include justice reforms and support for devastated communities.


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