Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has reacted to the blockage of the $875 million arms deal by the United States Congress.
According to Foreign Policy Magazine, top US lawmakers have blocked a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military over human rights concerns.
The report said the proposed arms sale included 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.
But in an interview with The PUNCH, Ndume said the Nigerian government is acquiring arms in order to fight insecurity and not to abuse human rights.
The lawmaker added that US Congress is mixing up the things, adding that the National Assembly would engage the US Congress on the matter and
He recalled that the American government raised similar concerns when Nigeria ordered 12 Super Tucano aircraft, part of which had been delivered.
Ndume said, “When we resume at the National Assembly, after consultations, we will know what to appropriately also do as the Nigerian National Assembly that appropriated such amount of money for those purposes…even if it requires our intervention… Definitely, this is based on information that was given (to the US) by one side.
“What is going on (in Nigeria) and what the arms are needed for, every Nigerian knows. We are not acquiring arms in order to abuse human rights; we are acquiring so the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies can be armed because of the security challenges we are facing. These are two different things. Human rights and the fight against terrorism, banditry and other forms of criminality are different things entirely.
“So, I am surprised that the US Congress is mixing up the things. If it requires that they should hear from the side of the Nigerian Government – not even the executive because the Nigerian Government which we are in collectively is fighting against banditry, insurgency, which is terrorism, and which the American Government has even placed bounty on some of their (insurgents’) heads – they will.”