Lawmakers in the United States Congress have resolved to halt the sale of attack helicopters and other defence equipment worth $875 million to Nigeria, a report has revealed.
The lawmakers, who are Senators in both the Democratic and Republican parties, predicated their decision on their concerns about human rights records in Nigeria under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the US political magazine, Foreign Policy.
According to the report, the equipment in question comprises 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, 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.
The report noted that the proposed embargo on the arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
Senator Bob Menendez (Democrat), Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, a top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to the magazine.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then-former Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has just received six out of the 12 Tucano jet fighters purchased from the US government.
The magazine, however, reported that US administration officials said they are tired of regular efforts by Capitol Hill to review arms.
The Nigerian Presidency had yet to issue a statement on the development as of the time of filing this report.