During President Muhammadu Buhari’s 4-day US trip this week, he had criticized the US law named after Leahy Law (or Leahy Amendment) which prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. Buhari said in his speech at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) that the Leahy Law as being implemented against Nigeria’s military was aiding and abetting the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Following a media backlash, Buhari has denied accusing the United States Government of helping the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
A statement by Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman, described the reports as “untrue and widely off mark” and an “unfortunate misinterpretation and distortion of the President’s remarks at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) during his highly successful official visit to Washington DC.”
Adesina said that the regrets expressed by President Buhari at USIP about the impact of the application of the Leahy Law on Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram and terrorism cannot be construed as an indictment of President Barack Obama and the United States Government who have publicly and privately declared their preparedness to give the Buhari Administration the fullest possible support and assistance.
“Within the context in which they were made, President Buhari’s comments on the adverse effect of the Leahy Law on Nigeria’s efforts to contain Boko Haram’s atrocious acts of terrorism should only be taken as a passionate appeal for even greater understanding and support from a very powerful and longstanding ally,” the statement said.
Adesina said that President Buhari has nothing but the highest possible regard for President Obama, the United States Government, the people of the United States, their laws and institutions. He said that the President had very successful and useful talks with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, other high-ranking US government officials and members of United States Congress during his visit to Washington DC.
“It is his expectation that those talks will lead to better mutual understanding and a further deepening of bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United States, especially in Nigeria’s current priority areas of defence and security cooperation,” the statement said.