July 14, 2024

Democratic and Republican Reps. Sara Jacobs and Chris Smith urge President Biden to rescind $1 billion arms deal with Nigeria over “forced abortion program, targeting of children”

Reps. Sara Jacobs, Chris Smith push Biden administration to rescind $1 billion arms deal with Nigeria
Reps. Sara Jacobs, Chris Smith push Biden administration to rescind $1 billion arms deal with Nigeria

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ-04), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, have sent a letter to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. urging his administration to rescind nearly $1 billion arms sale with Nigeria.

They said that the move follows “reports of the country’s alleged forced abortion program, targeting of children, and numerous human rights abuses.”

In a letter to President Biden, the lawmakers also asked for a review of security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria, including a risk assessment of civilian casualties and abuses.

Recounting Nigeria’s numerous human rights violations, the lawmakers wrote, “Last month, Reuters completed a series of investigations into the Nigerian military’s conduct, which revealed an alleged secret mass forced abortion program since 2013 and apparent systemic targeted killings of children, in addition to a consistent record of human rights abuses and civilian casualties.”

They added, “Therefore, we believe continuing to move forward with the nearly $1 billion arms sale would be highly inappropriate and we urge the Administration to rescind it. Given the recent reporting of Nigeria’s previously unknown mass forced abortion program – which allegedly ended at least 10,000 pregnancies – and the targeting of potentially thousands of children, we also urge a review of security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria to include a risk assessment of civilian casualties and abuses resulting from such assistance and whether such assistance has ever been diverted or had any significant positive effect on the conflict and violence in Nigeria.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our concern with current U.S. policy on and military support to Nigeria. Last month, Reuters completed a series of investigations into the Nigerian military’s conduct, which revealed an alleged secret mass forced abortion program since 2013 and apparent systemic targeted killings of children, in addition to a consistent record of human rights abuses and civilian casualties. Despite this, the United States recently approved a $997 million sale of 12 AH-1Z Attack Helicopters and related training and equipment to Nigeria.

Over the last 20 years, the United States has had a significant security partnership with Nigeria, with more than $232 million in security assistance, $1.6 billion in foreign military sales, and $305 million in direct commercial sales. While the United States has paired its security assistance with trainings focused on international law compliance, humanitarian workers on the ground report that Nigeria’s security forces “appear to have a limited understanding of humanitarian law and tools for effective engagement with local populations.” Moreover, the assistance we have provided has done little to stem the conflict – in fact, insecurity has worsened from the abuses committed by Nigerian forces. On top of all of this, there continue to be reports of weapons captured by insurgents – weapons that the State Department and Defense Department have proven unable to sufficiently track.

Therefore, we believe continuing to move forward with the nearly $1 billion arms sale would be highly inappropriate and we urge the Administration to rescind it. Given the recent reporting of Nigeria’s previously unknown mass forced abortion program – which allegedly ended at least 10,000 pregnancies – and the targeting of potentially thousands of children, we also urge a review of security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria to include a risk assessment of civilian casualties and abuses resulting from such assistance and whether such assistance has ever been diverted or had any significant positive effect on the conflict and violence in Nigeria.

We respectfully request a briefing on the progress of this review no later than 30 days after receipt of this letter. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and we look forward to your response.

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