Baga bloody day: US may stop military aid to Nigeria
The United States may suspend military assistance toNigeriaif there is sufficient evidence of human rights violations by the armed forces in Baga and other flashpoints, it was learnt yesterday.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence P. McCulley, dropped the hint at a session with human rights activists in Abuja.
But the stakeholders asked the US to go beyond the withdrawal or suspension of military assistance to prevent violation of human rights and corruption in the country.
They urged the US government to stop President Goodluck Jonathan and leaders of nations where corruption is pronounced from attending the G-8 Summit in Britain next month.
They also implored the US to prevent Nigerian political office holders from buying assets in the US.
The Defence Headquarters and the Presidency have said the Baga casualtyfigure was exaggerated. Besides, the National Security Adviser (NSA) said yesterday that the arson in Baga was the handiwork of Boko Haram. He said the cache of arms seized and displayed by JTF clearly shows that Boko Haram carried out these heinous attacks
According to a source at the closed-door session, the alleged violation of human rights in Baga by the military was extensively discussed.
The source said the satellite images of abuses in Baga released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the testimony of a woman human rights activist from Borno assisted in drawing conclusions at the session.
The source said: “The female activist and others spoke about the attitude of the military to the civilian population in Baga.
“The human rights activists agreed that the conduct of the military was not in line with the international rules of engagement.”
The source quoted McCulley as saying: “There is a Congressional law preventing the US from funding training activities or technical partnership with the military of any country that is violating human rights. If evidence abounds in Nigeria, we will do that.
“In America, when the military violates the law, they are punished but inNigeria they are allowed to go.
“America is not obliged to assist a country whose military is notorious for human rights violations. I have already told the Nigerian government.”
On the US position on corruption, the source quoted the Ambassador as saying: “We are standing by our findings on corruption in Nigeria. Corruption is one of the reasons why there is insurgency in Nigeria because it breeds poverty and underdevelopment.”
Another activist at the session reportedly said: “The meeting was called to seek our advice on human rights, democracy and good governance. They sought to know if there are areas the US Government can assist.
“Some of us raised objection to the US attitude to corrupt political office holders who are allowed to buy assets in the US. We said they cannot be talking against corruption and be allowing the laundering of looted funds to the US.
“The Ambassador said American institutions are very strict when it comes to money laundering. McCulley said: ‘We won’t allow that to happen. If you have contrary information, send it to us.”
A third source at the meeting said most stakeholders asked the US to stop President Jonathan and other leaders, whose nations are perpetrating human rights violations and corruption, from attending the G-8 Summit in the UK in June.
The source quoted the Ambassador as saying: “I will relate your observation to the American Government.”
Asked if there was any commitment from the Ambassador, the fourth source at the meeting added: “McCulley said the US is determined to deepen democracy and good governance in Nigeria. The US wants peace and development in Nigeria because of its enormous potential.”
Some of the activists at the meeting include the Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Mr. Clement Nwankwo; the National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria(HURIWA), Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko; Dr. T Kole Shettima of the MacArthur Foundation; Executive Director at Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani; a political scientist and Director, Centre for Democracy and Development, Dr. Jibo Ibrahim; Advocacy Officer of OSIWA, Mr. Ilo Jude Udo; and Hajiya Saadatu of Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA).