The United States may be considering lifting its arms embargo on Nigeria soon.
The Head of a delegation of the US Congress Committee on Judiciary to the country, Mr. Darrel Issa, made the comment while speaking with journalists after a closed-door meeting with the nation’s defence and military chiefs at the National Defence College, Abuja, on Monday.
Issa said the US had commenced the process of lifting the restrictions of the Leahy Law on Nigeria because of the recent moves to professionalise the military by the Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs.
The Leahy Law is a human rights law of the US, which prevents the State Department and the Department of Defense from selling arms and ammunition to countries whose militaries are believed to have committed brazen acts of rights violation.
The refusal of the US Government to sell arms to the country because of the Leahy Amendment, forced the country, under President Goodluck Jonathan, to explore other options including the black market to get desperately needed arms and ammunition to halt the advances of the Boko Haram in 2014.
Issa added that most of American support to the country in the area of training, technical support and equipment provision was not tied to the Leahy law and had not been stopped.
He stated that the US was relying on President Mohammadu Buhari and the military chiefs to rebuild the trust of Nigerians in the military as an institution that would protect the citizenry.
The US Congressman said military chiefs and the American delegation discussed the issue of additional support in the area of aerial surveillance critical to the fight against the insurgency and the theft of the nation’s crude oil resources.
Issa said, “There are a number of things that we discussed today. Basically, there was the need for additional technical support, including overhead surveillance. This is important for Boko Haram but it is also important to stop the theft of this country’s oil by pirates and others.
“The fact is that this new regime with the new general staff have begun the process of ensuring that military professionalism in all post-civilians and combats has been made in a way that we can both be confident that the rule of law is being obeyed.
“So the process has begun to lift the restriction of the Leahy. But let’s understand that the vast majority of support that US provides and would provide would be provided regardless of those. Our technical support, our training and most of the equipment we supply have never stopped and will continue.
“But we are looking forward to the President, with the new General Staff, to work to make sure the people of Nigeria can have the confidence in the professionalism of the military, something the people rely on when the military is trying to clear insurgents and protect civilians.”