President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday [Jul 22] said the US Leahy Law “aided and abetted” the campaign of bloodletting by Boko Haram. The Leahy Law prohibits the US Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. It is named after its principal sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
It was the primary reason the US government refused to sell weapons to the Nigerian Army last year and even blocked attempts by Israel to sell Cobra helicopters to Nigeria.
Other than Nigeria, other countries that have been stopped from receiving assistance by the US under the Leahy Law are: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan. Speaking at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), Buhari urged the US government to review the law so that it could provide the needed assistance to Nigeria to crush Boko Haram.
He said that the blanket application of the Leahy Law by the US on the grounds of unproven allegations of human rights violations levelled against the Nigerian Armed forces had denied the country access to appropriate strategic weapons to prosecute the war against the insurgents.
“In the face of abduction of innocent school girls from their hostels, indiscriminate bombings of civilians in markets and places of worship, our forces have remained largely impotent because they do not possess the appropriate weapons and technology, which they could have had, had the so-called human rights violations not been an obstacle.
“Unwittingly, and I dare say, unintentionally, the application of the Leahy law amendment by the US government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes. I believe this is not the spirit of the Leahy Laws. I know the American people cannot support any group engaged in these crimes”.
“I therefore strongly appeal to both the Executive Arm and the US Congress to examine how the US government can provide us with far more substantial counter-terrorism assistance with minimal strings. The longer we delay, the deadlier the Boko Haram gets. At all events, we have re-written the rules of engagement protecting the rights of combatants and in particular safeguarding civilians in theatres of conflict. “As we ramp up our efforts to defeat Boko Haram, we know that winning this battle sustainably will require that we expand economic opportunities and create jobs for our teeming young population.
“We must also improve the quality of governance; ensure that governments at all levels are responsive, inclusive, transparent and accountable, and that public institutions deliver services in a timely and efficient manner. We must win and sustain the trust of the people we govern,” he said.