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Fear Grip Nigerian Government As US Threatens To Withdraw Military Assistance

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The United States Government has threatened to withdraw the supply of military hardware among other types of military assistance to Nigeria over abuse of human rights.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken gave the renewed warning in an interview with CNN, his office said in a statement.

Blinken said that the US government could invoke the Leahy laws to block further military cooperation with Nigeria.

He said that this was not limited to the supply of hardware but also included training to tackle terrorism and other criminal activities.

The Leahy Law is a human rights law that prohibits the US government from rendering military assistance to foreign nations that violate human rights with impunity. It is named after its principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy.

Blinken, who was in Nigeria from Wednesday to Friday, urged the Federal and Lagos State governments to ensure individuals found to have violated human rights during the October 2020 #EndSARS protests were sanctioned when the white paper on the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters is ready.

The US Secretary of State further noted that such violations must stop or Nigeria risked a frosty military relationship with his country.

Blinken noted that the US government was waiting for the release of the report of the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel by the Lagos State Government.

“But a couple of things are really important. As I said, the report itself, done by the state government, but then once it’s out, for there to actually be action on the basis of the report, action as necessary by the states, action by the Federal Government, and action in the sense of two things.

“First, making sure that based on what is documented to have happened, it won’t happen again – so there may be reforms that are necessary – and building or rebuilding trust between the citizens and the security services, between citizens and the state. That is an obligation of both the state government and the Federal Government.

“Second is accountability. If there are individuals that – as it emerges from this report – who are responsible for committing abuses, there has to be accountability in terms of those individuals. That too is vital to rebuilding trust between citizens and the state and the security services,” he said.

Speaking on options available to the US if human rights abuses continued, Blinken said, “And, of course, we also have laws in place – the Leahy laws, for example – that make sure that if there are units that have committed abuses, we’re not going to provide equipment to those units.”

Pressed on whether US government could invoke the law on the Nigerian government, Blinken said, “Well, we look in any instance if – and if there are credible allegations that prove, that we believe meet the standard of the law, yes, of course, we’ll apply the law.”

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