US Senator Patrick Leahy has reacted to the criticism of the United States by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari over the withholding of US’s support from Nigeria in the war against Boko Haram.
During 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 that the Leahy Law, as being implemented against Nigeria’s military, was aiding and abetting the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
“It is well documented by the State Department and by respected human rights organisations that Nigerian army personnel have, for many years, engaged in a pattern and practice of gross violations of human rights against the Nigerian people and others, including summary executions of prisoners, indiscriminate attacks against civilians, torture, forced disappearances and rape. Rarely have the perpetrators been prosecuted or punished.
“This abusive conduct not only violates the laws of war, it creates fear and loathing among the Nigerian people whose support is necessary to defeat a terrorist group like Boko Haram.
“President Buhari ignores the undisputed fact that most Nigerian army units have been approved, under the Leahy Law, for U.S. training and equipment. Only those particular units against which there is credible evidence of the most heinous crimes are ineligible for U.S. aid. And even those units can again become eligible if the Nigerian Government takes effective steps to bring the responsible individuals to justice.
“I strongly agree with President Buhari about the need to defeat Boko Haram, and I have supported tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Nigeria for that purpose. But rather than suggest that the United States is at fault for not funding murderers and rapists in the Nigerian military, he should face up to his own responsibility to effectively counter Boko Haram. He should direct his attention to the Nigerian military, and the Nigerian courts, and clean up the units implicated in such atrocities,” Leahy said.