National Assembly to meet US Congress over $875m arms deal stoppage

Nigerian Senate
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The National Assembly is set to engage the United States Congress over the stoppage of the $875 million arms sale to Nigeria.

A US magazine, Foreign Policy, had reported that top US lawmakers have blocked a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military over human rights concerns.

The report said the proposed arms sale included 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.

Speaking with The PUNCH, Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, said the National Assembly would send delegations to meet with the US Congress to resolve the issue.

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Benson said, “There is what we call parliamentary diplomacy or advocacy. The US parliament is very strong and determines a lot of things. Plans have been in the works – not because of this – to visit the US parliament and explore ways of military cooperation and so on.

“Recently, we visited the base where the Super Tucano aircraft were manufactured and what we all agreed was to cut out human rights abuses; that we needed to be more precise and ensure precision in whatever inventory or equipment we use so that we don’t hit collateral targets or innocent citizens unnecessarily.

“If they don’t give us those armaments, it means that the human rights thing may worsen because there won’t be precision. One of the good things we got with the A-29 (Tucano) is that it is guided. But now, if they (US) are withdrawing, they are not helping us with reducing civilian mortality and building our human rights records.

“We as the people’s parliament need to ensure that when those in the executive go out defending the territorial integrity and internal security, they are more guided, and they need weapons to be well guided. And who produces the best weapons that can guide in this regard? It is them (US).

“As a matter of fact, they have also trained our forces on how to minimise collateral damage and ensure civilian protection. There is ongoing training on that. If they now deny us, they are creating a bigger problem, not solving it.”

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