Some federal lawmakers in America have called on the United States government to rescind a nearly $1 billion helicopter sale to Nigeria, saying that allegations of a forced abortion program have renewed concerns over human rights violations by Nigerian authorities.
Congress had delayed the sale over concerns about the Nigerian army’s commitment to protect civilians as it battles a jihadist uprising in the northwest region of the country, as well as the bloody repression of protests against police violence in 2020.
However, President Joe Biden’s administration approved the sale of the 12 Viper attack helicopters last year, saying the equipment would promote security in Africa’s most populous country.
Representatives Chris Smith, a Republican active on human rights and strong opponent of abortion, and Sara Jacobs, a Democrat who formerly worked for the State Department, said that Nigeria’s armed forces had a consistent record of abuses and that past aid had done little to boost security.
ENYIMBA FM gathered that an investigation by Reuters last year found that Nigeria’s military has conducted a years-long illicit program to carry out abortions among victims of jihadists, with some girls and women who refuse being beaten, held at gunpoint or drugged.
The Nigerian military has denied the report. The US lawmakers’ call comes amid sporadic violence ahead of February 25 elections in Nigeria.