United States President, Donald Trump has agreed to sale high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram Islamic extremists group, U.S officials have confirmed.
The U.S stopped the sale of weapons to Nigeria some time back following concerns of human right abuses.
U.S congress is expected to receive formal notification of the move within weeks, a decision the Obama administration had planned to make at the very end of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The arrangement will call for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million, one of the officials said.
The A-29 aircraft allow pilots to pinpoint targets at night.
The aircraft deal would satisfy President Trump’s priorities to support nations fighting Islamic uprisings, boost U.S. manufacturing and create high-wage jobs at home.
Despite Trump’s willingness, the National Security Council is still working on the issue.
Meanwhile, as part of the new development, military sales to several other countries are also expected to be approved. Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015.
The Nigerian air force has been accused of bombing civilian targets at least three times in recent years. In the worst incident, a fighter jet in January, repeatedly bombed a camp at Rann, near the border with Cameroon, where civilians had fled from Boko Haram. Between 100 and 236 civilians and aid workers were killed, according to official and community leaders’ counts.
That bombing occurred on the same day the Obama administration intended to officially notify Congress the sale would go forward. Instead, it was abruptly put on hold, according to an individual who worked on the issue during Obama’s presidency.
Amnesty International has accused Nigeria’s military of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 8,000 Boko Haram suspects, the country’s military has denied the allegations.
The A-29 sale would improve the U.S. relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s largest consumer market of 170 million people, the continent’s biggest economy and its second-largest oil producer.
“It’s hard to argue that any country in Africa is more important than Nigeria for the geopolitical and other strategic interests of the U.S.,” said J. Peter Pham, vice-president of the Atlantic Council in Washington and head of its Africa Center.
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