United States Approves Major Arms Sale to Nigeria Despite Human Rights Concerns

21 April 2022 – One week prior, the USA approved a $1 billion arms sale deal to Nigeria, despite the numerous human rights concerns put forth by a bipartisan group of leaders on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The money includes thousands of guidance systems for precision munitions, 12 AH-1Z Attack Helicopters, machine guns, night vision equipment and other tools and weapons. The US Department of State claimed that this deal will be a major contribution to reaching US-Nigerian security goals, and it will “better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the US and other Western partners”. The deal also includes the deployment of persons to effectively train Nigerian forces on human rights, legal issues, and methods to minimize civilian damage when conducting air operations. The sale was halted last year due to human rights concerns, however, it is unconfirmed if justice was administered before the finalization of the deal. Worries raised steeply as in 2021 Nigeria was removed from the State Departments’ list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) after Secretary Blinken’s visit. Yet a few weeks before the visit, Kaduna State announced a clampdown on preaching, placing whole Christian communities on house arrest as a punishment for their protests on the lack of security in Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s administration. This lockdown allowed attackers to easily access communities and kill numerous civilians, while soldiers enforcing the lockdowns were nowhere to be seen.

Over the past two weeks there have been particularly brutal attacks in Benue State. 20 April 2022 – Armed Fulani militia attacked Waya community after attacking Jato Aka in Kwande LGA, resulting in the death of 11 people and many more injured.

21 April 2022 – Armed Fulani militia attacked and killed 12 people in Tse Ibe and Kyande communities situated in Mbapa and Mbabuande districts of Gwer West LGA.

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22 April 2022 – ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on Geidem in Yobe State. Resulting in the burning down of 6 local government buildings and the alleged execution of 8 Christian infidels.

Highest Number of Islamic State Attacks Take Place in Nigeria  

22 April 2022 – According to Jihad Analytics, Islamic State (IS) attacks in Nigeria are officially the highest recorded number of attacks, surpassing countries including Syria, Iraq and other war-torn states. As seen since January 2022, Nigeria has recorded 162 IS attacks whereas Iraq recorded 120 IS attacks. This is the first time Iraq has claimed fewer IS operations, the group most active in Nigeria is ISWAP (Islamic State West Africa Province). Criticisms rise as, despite the record number of IS attacks, the USA approved the Nigerian arms sale deal last week.

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2022-04/jesuit-refugee-services-nigeria-displaced-persons-insecurity.html 27 April 2022 – Fr. Patrick Etamesor SJ, JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) Country Director for Nigeria speaks on the opening of a JRS branch in Nigeria. The international Catholic organization encompasses a “mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and forcibly displaced persons”. Nigeria requires a response to the insurgency occurring as it is affecting the nation, religions, access to healthcare and other socio-economic issues. Director Fr. Tom Smolich SJ has organized set plans to ensure the JRS response meets the essentials of those in distress. Currently, JRS covers a large geographical area of Nigeria, focusing on the northeast by offering educational services, entrepreneurship and advocacy work; and the northwest focuses on the horrific banditry and kidnappings, as well as the growing number of IDPs. Fr. Patrick Etamesor SJ emphasizes that giving humanitarian aid, speaking up and military action as solely specific responses are not sufficient to respond to Nigeria’s security crisis. He stresses a coordinated response is needed from humanitarian, political, religious, governmental and development actors. The response needs to include an economic dimension, comprising the correct allocation of funding to an area and ensuring the money is spent correctly. All sectors need to come together.

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