‘Forced abortions’: US senator seeks review of security assistance to Nigeria

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Jim Risch, a US senator, has written to Anthony Blinken, the country’s secretary of state, to review the security assistance and cooperation programmes in Nigeria.

According to Reuters, the development stems from the investigation detailing an alleged abortion programme by the Nigerian military.

In the said letter, Risch, who is a ranking member of the US senate foreign relations committee, asked Blinken to examine the potential use of sanctions.

“I look forward to hearing more about the department’s planned response to the serious and abhorrent allegations levied against a long-standing beneficiary of U.S. security assistance and cooperation which, if deemed credible, have done irreparable harm to a generation of Nigerian citizens and to U.S. credibility in the region,” Risch said in the letter.

REUTERS INVESTIGATION

Reuters had accused the Nigerian Army of carrying out illegal abortions on victims of insurgency in the north-east since 2013.

In the report, at least 10,000 pregnancies were said to have been aborted by the Nigerian military.

Soldiers interviewed were said to have revealed that women who resisted the forced abortion were either beaten or drugged into compliance. 

Although Reuters said it could not establish who created the programme, the news agency said forced abortions occurred in at least five military facilities and five civilian hospitals in the north-east, especially in Maiduguri, the Borno capital.

FG, DEFENCE CHIEF DENY THE CLAIM

Lucky Irabor, the chief of defence staff, described the investigation as “outright nonsense”.

He said the allegations are untrue and never occurred, adding that he is not going to “dignify such report”. 

Lai Mohammed, the minister for information and culture, said the report is a strategy to set the world against Nigeria and cut off the support that is critical to crushing terrorists.

He also queried the basis for the investigation at a time the military is recording successes, decimating the terrorists and rescuing abducted persons.

US-NIGERIA RELATIONSHIP

In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari approved $496 million for the procurement of aircraft to boost Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram.

The deal included supplying the Nigerian armed forces with ammunition, training and aircraft maintenance.

It had been halted by the Barack Obama administration following allegations of human rights abuses against the Nigerian military.

However, both countries resumed talks on the deal after former US President Donald Trump overturned the embargo imposed by Obama.

The federal government has since taken delivery of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets expected from the US.

On October 18, Lai Mohammed confirmed the delivery of all the fighter jets which he described as a “game changer” in the war against insurgency.

 

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