Nigeria’s federal government has denied reports that some lawmakers in the United States have blocked the planned sale of $875 million ammunitions to Nigeria due to poor human rights record.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja Friday, said government “is not aware of any $875 million ammunitions deal with the United States which is being purportedly blocked by some lawmakers in that country.”
He said there was no contract of such nature and sum between Nigeria and the United States
The minister said: “There is no contract for arms between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United States of America today apart from the 12 Super Tucano attack jets of which six had been delivered.
“We are quite satisfied with the progress and cooperation that we received from the government of the US on this issue.
“As a matter of fact, six of the Tucano fighter jets will be launched on Aug. 3, this year.
“We are not aware of the so called $875 million arms contract or some helicopters which they said some lawmakers in the US are trying to persuade the president of the US not to honour.
“The relationship between Nigeria and the US is smooth and waxing stronger.”
There had been reports that influential United States lawmakers were masterminding a hold on a proposed sale of ammunitions and attack helicopters to Nigeria over allegations of human rights abuses and anti-democratic actions of the present administration.
Citing U.S. officials and congressional aides privy to the blocked ammunitions deals worth $875 million, Foreign Policy, a U.S. newspaper, said power brokers in Washington, particularly the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were hell bent on pushing the Biden administration to rethink the U.S. relations with Nigeria to ensure balance between national security and human rights.
It reported further that influential U.S. lawmakers were masterminding a hold on a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria over concerns that the Buhari administration was drifting towards authoritarianism.
Foreign Policy said state documents it saw showed that the blocked proposed sale included, 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters accompanied by defense systems, 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems i.e. laser-guided rocket munitions.
Earlier in June, the chairperson of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, during a Senate hearing with Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement with Nigeria.”