SAN FRANCISCO, May 02, (THEWILL) – The United States Government has withdrawn military assistance to Nigeria citing various human rights violations by Nigerian security forces, particularly the military which is currently engulfed in a controversy over the killing of dozens and destruction of hundreds of residences in Baga, a town in Borno State during a clash with members of the Boko Haram.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Terence P. McCulley in a private meeting Thursday in Abuja with about ten members of the human rights community in Nigeria disclosed the US government position.
The US supports the Nigerian military and security agencies with training, intelligence and weapons.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report released in Johannesburg, South Africa, said its investigations into the fighting in Baga, showed that 183 people were killed, contrary to the claims by the military, which also investigated the incident and has maintained that 36 persons and a soldier died in the clash.
HRW which cited a community leader as its source, also said its analysis of satellite images of Baga, before and after the clash, showed that 2,275 buildings, majority of which were likely residences, were razed by fire with another 125 severely damaged.
THEWILL gathered from a source at the meeting who opted to remain anonymous that the Ambassador called the meeting to feel the pulse of the human rights community over the violations of basic rights of citizens by security forces under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
As the meeting progressed, Mr. Terrence announced to the activists that the US congress had previously passed a law that bars the United States from rendering military assistance to any government that violates basic rights of citizens. He said the Obama led US government has therefore ceased to assist Nigeria militarily in obedience to the law.
The source said Mr. Terence listened as his visitors expressed frustrations with the Nigerian government over its inability to bring to justice security operatives that have violated rights of fellow citizens.
The source further told THEWILL that the activists pleaded with the US Ambassador to cancel any invitation extended to President Goodluck Jonathan to attend any meetings of global world leaders in protest of the nation’s worsening human rights record.
The Ambassador however agreed with their position and assured the rights activists of the US government’s unflinching support for democracy and the rights of citizens. He assured them that their position would be communicated to the Department of State headed by Senator John Kerry.
Some of the activists at the meeting include Mr. Clement Nwankwo, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko of the Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria; Kole Shettima of the MacArthur Foundation and Auwal Rafsanjani of the Executive Director at Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) amongst others.