President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the application of the Leahy law amendment by the United States government has aided and abetted the violent activities of the Boko Haram sect in the country.
He said while he believed that this was not the spirit of the law, its blanket application by the US on the grounds of unproven allegations of human rights violations levelled against Nigerian forces has denied the country access to appropriate strategic weapons to prosecute the war against the insurgents.
Buhari spoke at the United States Institute for Peace shortly before leaving US at the end of his four-day official visit to the country.
According to Wikipedia, the Leahy Law, or Leahy amendment, 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 violate human rights with impunity.
To implement the law which is named after its principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, US embassies and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour and the appropriate regional bureau of the US Department of State vet potential recipients of
If a unit is found to have been credibly implicated in a serious abuse of human rights, assistance is denied until the host nation government takes effective steps to bring the responsible persons within the unit to justice.
While the US Government does not publicly report on foreign armed force units it has cut off from receiving assistance, press reports have indicated that security force units in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan have been denied assistance due to the Leahy Law.
Buhari said Nigerian forces have remained largely impotent in the face of the onslaught being launched by terrorists because they do not possess the appropriate weapons and technology which they could have had, because of the application of the US law.
He regretted that the allegations of human rights violations levelled against Nigerian forces upon which the law is being applied had remained unproven.
The President said, “In our efforts at combating the activities of Boko Haram, the new government has sought and obtained the support of not only our neighbours but other international friends and partners.
“Regrettably, the blanket application of the Leahy Law by the United States on the grounds of unproven allegations of human rights violations levelled against our forces has denied us access to appropriate strategic weapons to prosecute the war against the insurgents.
“In the face of abduction of innocent school girls from their hostels, indiscriminate bombings of civilians in markets and places of worship, our forces have remained largely impotent because they do not possess the appropriate weapons and technology which they could have had, had the so called human rights violations not been an obstacle.
“Unwittingly, and I dare say, unintentionally, the application of the Leahy law amendment by the US Government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes.
“I believe this is not the spirit of the Leahy Laws. I know the American people cannot support any group engaged in these crimes.”
Buhari therefore appealed to both the Executive Arm and the US Congress to examine how the US Government can provide Nigeria with more substantial counter-terrorism assistance with minimal strings.