U.S. After Reuters’ report on an illegal abortion program in Nigeria and the killing of children by the Nigerian military, Senator Jim Risch (top Republican) has asked for a review of U.S. assistance and cooperation programs.
In a letter addressed to Antony Blinken, Risch also requested that the State Department examine possible use of sanctions and conduct a prompt review of U.S. assistance and cooperation.
Risch wrote Friday that he was looking forward to learning more about how the Department will respond to serious allegations against a beneficiary of U.S. Security Assistance and Cooperation. These accusations, if proven credible, would have caused irreparable damage to a generation Nigerian citizens as well as to U.S. credibility in the area.
The Nigerian Information Minister was not available immediately to respond to the request for review.
According to Reuters, the Nigerian military had been conducting an illegal, secretive, and systematic abortion program in Nigeria’s northeast since 2013, at the latest. This has resulted in at least 10,000 unplanned pregnancies for women and girls.
Many were kidnapped by Islamist militants and raped. Witnesses claim that the militants beat and drugged those who refused to comply.
Nigerian military officials denied that the program existed. They claimed that Reuters was an attempt to weaken the fight against insurgents.
Reuters reported last week that children were also killed by the Nigerian Army, allied security forces and the Nigerian Army during the 13-year long war against Islamist extremists in Nigeria’s northeast.
Reuters was told by Nigerian military officers that the army never killed children. The article’s reporting was a insult to Nigerians, they said. It also reflects an effort by foreigners to weaken the fight against insurgents.
According to reports, Nigeria’s Military Chief called for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to conduct an independent investigation into the illegal abortion program Reuters reported.
According to reports, the Human Rights Commission has already stated that it will launch an investigation.
When asked by the State Department about Risch’s email, a spokesperson said that the United States was still looking at the Reuters report and would then decide on next steps.
The spokesperson stated that decisions to provide military equipment and training are taken on an individual basis. They also consider many factors such as respecting human rights and adhering to the law of war.
Our existing defense sales to Nigeria contain robust components that promote human rights and prevent civilian harm.
According to the spokesperson, all Nigerian security forces units are subject to review by the department. If credible evidence is available that a unit has violated human rights in a serious way, security assistance will not be provided.
The United States authorized nearly $1 billion worth of weapons sales to Nigeria earlier this year. This was after Nigeria received last year’s Embraer-made A-29 Super Tucanos from Embraer, which is a slow-flying aircraft that provides close air support for infantry, much in the same way as a helicopter.
Due to concerns over possible abuses of human rights by the Nigerian government, this April-approved deal was put on hold.
Between 2016 and 2020, the United States also committed approximately $6 million to the International Military Education and Training program (IMET).