The United States on Monday called on Nigeria to investigate human rights violations in the fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram, pledging new financial aid to rebuild the north-east of the country after years of war.
While visiting Abuja, US Assistant Secretary of State John Sullivan said “transparent and credible” investigations and prosecutions were needed to allow victims of the conflict to heal their wounds.
“This is essential to strengthen the people’s confidence in the government, improve security efforts in the north-east” and urge the United States to cooperate more with Nigeria, said the senior US official.
Nigerian soldiers have been accused on numerous occasions of abuse of alleged Boko Haram members and civilians, including arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial executions.
The military has always denied but fears over the various scandals have prompted the international community to be cautious in its support for counter-insurgency operations.
A $ 593 million contract announced in 2016 by the administration of former US President Barack Obama for the sale of 12 Super Tucano A-29 ground attack aircraft to Nigeria, was put on hold after an accidental bombing of civilians by the Nigerian army in January that left 112 dead. The State Department finally approved the sale in August.
Washington supports Nigeria and other armies in the region (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin) against Boko Haram, including drone surveillance operations. With France and Great Britain, the United States also provides support to train and train Nigerian troops.
According to Sullivan, the United States is “determined to help the Nigerian people to ensure its own security”, but military power alone is not enough. Nigeria needs to do better especially in terms of governance, he said.
He pledged $ 45.5 million in new aid through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support “stabilization and recovery efforts” to help victims of violence.
At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2009, while hundreds of thousands of people suffer from malnutrition due to chronic food shortages in the northeast.
The trials of hundreds of suspected members of Boko Haram began in October, but hearings are held behind closed doors in barracks barred from the press and the general public.