- As Buhari assures on speedy trial of human rights abusers
- Says machinery now in place to refund $500m looted funds
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Washington DC
President Donald Trump of the United States has made an assurance that twelve counter insurgency aircraft worth $496 million would be speedily approved for release to Nigeria to help in the country’s fight against Boko Haram.
The US had previously refused to sell military aircraft to Nigeria, citing human rights concerns.
The White House however recently sold 12 counter insurgency aircraft to Nigeria.
The US President gave the assurance during the question and answer session with journalists after a joint press briefing with President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House Rose Garden, Washington DC.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the United States that his administration remains deeply committed to the principles of human rights as well as the promotion and protection of people’s freedom, even in the process of fighting terror.
“We commit to ensure that all documented cases of human rights abuses are investigated and those responsible for violations held accountable for their actions,” he said.
Buhari added that in an effort to address emerging cases of insurgency in the country, the Nigerian Military adopted a non-kinetic counter terrorism/counter insurgency approach code-named “Operation Safe Corridor” to de-radicalize, rehabilitate, and re-integrate willingly surrendering Boko Haram members into the larger society.
“This programme is currently embarking on a number of projects including: skill acquisition centers and integrated farms; comprising poultry, fish pond and greenhouse farming, among others. A number of international partners, including the International Organization for Migration have contributed to the success of Operation Safe Corridor. We indicated that we would appreciate whatever support we could also get from the US.”
Buhari expressed his government’s gratitude to US for support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the North East of Nigeria, including humanitarian assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through such agencies as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international partners.
“The USA has been to date the biggest contributor to the humanitarian response, and last year gave approximately 500 million US Dollars in cash and in-kind contributions through the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations. These have mainly supported protection activities, health, food assistance and shelter.”
On the kidnapped girls still in the captivity of Boko Haram, Buhari said, “We are doing all we can to secure the release of the remaining abducted school girls from Dapchi and Chibok. In this context, we will continue to welcome US collaboration in intelligence gathering, hostage negotiations and information-sharing.
On looted funds Buhari said, “We thank the US government very much for the cooperation we have received in our effort to recover stolen funds.
“Our two governments have put the machinery in place for their respective Attorneys-General to collaborate in ensuring the return to Nigeria of over five hundred million United States Dollars ($500) of looted funds siphoned away in banks around the world. In this connection, we congratulated the US government on launching a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which was spearheaded by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering. We hoped that we could continue to count on US support in this area.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari and President Trump both avoided the question about Trump reported use of vulgar language during an Oval Office meeting. He made the comments on immigrants from African nations in reference to US immigration legislation this past January.
“I’m very careful with what the press says about [people] other than myself. I’m not sure about the validity or whether that allegation against the President was true or not, the best thing for me is to keep quiet,” said Buhari when asked if the President’s past comments came up during their meetings.
“We didn’t discuss it. You do have some countries that are in very bad shape. We didn’t discuss it because the President knows me and knows where I’m coming from,” Trump said.
President Buhari also called for increased value of trade between Nigeria and the United States of America.
“Nigeria’s trade volume with the United States stood at $6.07 billion according to 2016 statistics and comprised $4.176 billion worth of Nigerian exports to the US and $1.894 billion US exports to Nigeria. We urged greater effort to increase these figures substantially,” he said.