The US government is considering the lift of a ban on weapons sale to Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari said the restriction prevents the army from defeating terror group Boko Haram. The leader made the comment after he met with US president Barack Obama, who pledged more support to help Nigeria defeat terrorism and corruption.
Buhari criticised the US Leahy Law, which forbids the US government from providing military assistance or funding to countries that commit – or are suspected of committing – gross human rights abuses with impunity. US Congressman Darrell Edward Issa told military authorities in the Nigerian capital Abuja that the US is discussing whether to relax or completely lift the ban to improve Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram, which has killed more than 13,000 people since its insurgence became violent in 2009.
"This is because of the trust in the new regime which has begun the process of ensuring that the military's professionalism in the battle field is made in a way that we all can be confident that the rule of law is followed," Issa was quoted by The News as saying.
"Following this development, we have begun the process of lifting restrictions under the Leahy Law but the vast majority of the support US provides will be given regardless of the restrictions,'' he continued.
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram (recently renamed Iswap) fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law in the country.
The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.
Boko Haram has raided several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more land.
Three states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram's attacks.
The group has killed more than 3,000 people since the beginning of 2015.
The Nigerian army has been accused by Amnesty International of committing war crimes and being responsible for the deaths of some 8,000 people during its anti-terrorism fight. President Buhari said he will investigate the allegations.
The US' announcement came as the Nigerian army freed more than 100 children held captive by Boko Haram, renowned for kidnapping civilians – mainly women and children – and forcing them to participate in terror attacks in northern Nigeria and neighbouring countries. The army also released some 178 people during another rescue operation in July.
Earlier in June, the US said it will provide military trainers to help the Nigerian army improve its intelligence gathering and logistics. In July, the Nigerian army announced that a new task force is ready to substitute an ongoing regional force in the fight against the terrorists.
The task force comprises some 8,700 soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Benin and is headed by Major General Iliya Abbah, who previously conducted military operations in the Niger Delta.