Trump promises Nigeria weapons to fight Boko Haram


U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to “cut a new deal” to sell more weapons to Nigeria to fight the extremist Boko Haram militia, a Nigerian spokesman says.

The promise came in a telephone conversation on Monday between Mr. Trump and Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari – the first official conversation between Mr. Trump and an African leader since he took office last month.

The promise of weapons sales will be controversial, since the United States in the past has often refused to sell weapons to Nigeria because of deep concerns over human-rights abuses by the Nigerian military.

In 2014, for example, the United States blocked the sale of American-made Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria from Israel because of concerns that the Nigerian army was failing to protect civilians during military operations. The Nigerian government, furious over the blocked sale, made diplomatic protests in Washington. But many human-rights groups have documented widespread atrocities by the Nigerian military in its battle against Boko Haram, a radical Islamist militia that has killed thousands of civilians.

There are also congressional restrictions on U.S. arms sales to countries where the military has a poor human-rights record. But last year there were preliminary signs that the U.S. might be loosening its policy. The sale of U.S. attack aircraft to Nigeria was discussed between the two countries.

In their Monday phone conversation, Mr. Trump and Mr. Buhari “discussed ways to improve co-operation in the fight against terrorism through provision of necessary equipment,” a Nigerian presidential spokesman said.

“President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism,” the Nigerian spokesman added.

He said Mr. Trump also invited Mr. Buhari to Washington and praised the Nigerian president for “the strides being taken by the Nigerian military.”

The phone conversation between the two leaders has sparked controversy in Nigeria, where many people have been angered by Mr. Buhari’s disappearance from the country for the past three weeks.

Mr. Buhari travelled to London last month on what was initially reported as a vacation. Later his office acknowledged that the 74-year-old president was receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed condition, and Nigeria was consumed by rumours that he was severely ill or even dead.

When news of the Trump-Buhari conversation broke on Monday, many Nigerians said Mr. Buhari should provide as much openness to the Nigerian people as he has to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Buhari’s office said he spoke to Mr. Trump from London, but some Nigerians said they wanted to see video evidence of the call to evaluate their president’s health, especially because Nigeria has a past history of presidents concealing their illnesses. In 2010, former president Umaru Yar’Adua died after a long illness that was covered up by the government.

Shortly after speaking to the Nigerian president, Mr. Trump spoke by telephone to South African President Jacob Zuma. A statement by Mr. Zuma’s office said they discussed trade and security issues, including “the quest for peace and stability on the African continent.”

Mr. Trump has said little about his Africa policy. But from questions given by his staff to the U.S. State Department, it is clear that Mr. Trump has little interest in U.S. foreign aid to Africa. Instead, he sees Africa through the lens of security issues, especially the fight against Islamist radical groups such as Boko Haram.

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NaijaPrince.com: Trump promises Nigeria weapons to fight Boko Haram
Trump promises Nigeria weapons to fight Boko Haram
U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to “cut a new deal” to sell more weapons to Nigeria to fight the extremist Boko Haram militia, a Nigerian spokesman says.
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