America replies Nigeria, releases details of aid to Nigerian military in war against Boko Haram

AH-1 Cobra Helicopter

The United States has faulted the claim by the Nigerian government that it is standing in the way of the Nigerian military’s quest to procure weapons to strengthen its war against the extremist Boko Haram sect.

Answering questions during a press briefing, the U.S. Department of State spokesperson, Jen Paski, said Wednesday the American government has been supporting the Nigerian military in the area of intelligence sharing, training of soldiers and other measures in combating the insurgency.

On Monday, the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Ade Adefuye, had accused the U.S. of letting Nigeria down in its hour of need by refusing to help the country procure weapon to combat Boko Haram.

“We find it difficult to understand how and why in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly,” he said.

He said the U.S. was standing in the way of the Nigerian military procuring lethal equipment that would have helped the country end the deadly insurgency mounted against Nigeria by Boko Haram.

Dismissing the claims that the Nigerian military were involved in human rights violations, Mr. Adefuye also flayed the U.S. government for the manner it’s sharing intelligence with the Nigerian military, arguing that despite the claim by the Americans that things have improved in that aspect, “it is still there”.

However, during Wednesday’s briefing in Washington, the Department of State spokesperson said the U.S. has actually increased its support for the Nigerian military, especially in the last six months.

She said her government has improved intelligence sharing with the Nigerian military and has actually approved and sold some military equipment to the Nigerian military.

“Let me just lay out the facts of our assistance. Over the past six months, the United States has started sharing intelligence with Nigeria, began training a new army battalion and held numerous high-level discussions with Nigerian authorities on additional measures to best address the Boko Haram threat.

“We have also provided and approved sales of military equipment to its armed forces. These decisions are made, of course, after careful scrutiny to ensure they conform with United States law,” she said in response to a question about Ambassador Adefuye’s claims.

She explained that the U.S. refused to sell some Cobra attack helicopters to the Nigerian armed forces early this year because it was concerned the military had no capacity to operate and maintain it.

Ms Paski said there were also concerns over the protection of civilians during military operations.

“We shared those concerns with Nigeria before this decision and subsequent to it,” she said.

She said that the Nigerian military has however purchased helicopters from other sources and that the U.S. government did not prevent such purchases.

“Nigeria has purchased helicopters that originated in countries other than the United States, and nothing in our decision prevents Nigeria from obtaining weapons and equipment from other sources.

“We’ll continue to look for ways to deepen our cooperation with Nigeria to help it acquire the systems and skills needed to restore peace and security. But obviously, we’ve provided a great deal of assistance over the past several months.”

Ms Paski said the U.S. would continue to urge the Nigerian military to investigate allegation of abuses by soldiers and to do more in the area of training the country’s security forces to improve its effectiveness.

“We wouldn’t be raising that concern if we didn’t feel and others didn’t feel that they were warranted,” she said.

Below is the full version of Ms Paski’s comment on Nigeria.

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 12, 2014
TRANSCRIPT:

1:15 p.m. EST

QUESTION: Can I go to Nigeria?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I just have probably time for one or two more questions.

QUESTION: Okay. I’ll try not to take up too much time.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: There was – the Nigerian ambassador here in Washington, D.C. invited some members of the Council on Foreign Relations to the Embassy on Monday. And basically, he gave a speech in which he said that Nigeria is not very happy with the United States at the moment, that he feels that you guys are not giving them the weapons that they need to really deal with Boko Haram, and that this statement that you have that it’s because you’re concerned about human rights allegations by the Nigerian army are just half-truths, hearsays put out by the opponents of President Jonathan and human rights groups.

I wondered if I could have your reaction to the comments that he made.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we first value our – highly value our longstanding and important relationship with Nigeria. Let me just lay out the facts of our assistance. Over the past six months, the United States has started sharing intelligence with Nigeria, began training a new army battalion and held numerous high-level discussions with Nigerian authorities on additional measures to best address the Boko Haram threat. We have also provided and approved sales of military equipment to its armed forces. These decisions are made, of course, after careful scrutiny to ensure they conform with United States law.

Earlier this year, we denied the transfer of some Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations. We shared those concerns with Nigeria before this decision and subsequent to it.

Nigeria has purchased helicopters that originated in countries other than the United States, and nothing in our decision prevents Nigeria from obtaining weapons and equipment from other sources. We’ll continue to look for ways to deepen our cooperation with Nigeria to help it acquire the systems and skills needed to restore peace and security. But obviously, we’ve provided a great deal of assistance over the past several months.

QUESTION: So other than the Cobra helicopters, is there any request from the Nigerian Government that hasn’t been met by the United States?

MS. PSAKI: I would ask them that specific question, but we’ve obviously provided them with a range of assistance, including intelligence sharing as well as military equipment.

QUESTION: And what about their response that the allegations of human rights abuses by the Nigerian army are just – are not substantiated?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we continue to urge Nigeria to investigate allegations of abuses perpetrated by Nigerian security forces, as well as offer Nigeria assistance in developing the doctrine and training needed to improve the military’s effectiveness. We wouldn’t be raising that concern if we didn’t feel and others didn’t feel that they were warranted.

QUESTION: So were you surprised by – was this building surprised by the ambassador’s comments on Monday?

MS. PSAKI: We did not review the comments in advance, no.

QUESTION: But so you were surprised, then, to – by the depth – I mean, it was a pretty angry statement that he made.

MS. PSAKI: I’ll leave it at what I conveyed.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:21 p.m.)

DPB # 192

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