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Trump to sell attack planes to Nigeria for Boko Haram fight

Trump to sell attack planes to Nigeria for Boko Haram fight
Trump To Sell Attack Planes To Nigeria For Boko Haram Fight Photo 1

The Trump administration will move forward with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram Islamic extremists despite concerns over abuses committed by the African nation's security forces, according to US officials.

Congress is expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama's presidency.

The arrangement will call for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million, one of the officials said.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the terms of the sale publicly and requested anonymity to speak about internal diplomatic conversations.

Though President Donald Trump has made clear his intention to approve the sale of the aircraft, the National Security Council is still working on the issue.

Military sales to several other countries are also expected to be approved but are caught up in an ongoing White House review.

Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015.

The Nigerian air force has been accused of bombing civilian targets at least three times in recent years.

In the worst incident, a fighter jet on January 17 repeatedly bombed a camp at Rann, near the border with Cameroon, where civilians had fled from Boko Haram.

Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairperson of the Foreign Relations Committee, said this past week that he supported the A-29 deal to Nigeria as well as the sale of US-made fighter jets to Bahrain that had been stripped of human rights caveats imposed by the Obama administration.

"We need to deal with human rights issues, but not on weapons sales," Corker said.

The State Department said in a 2016 report that the Nigerian government has taken "few steps to investigate or prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government, and impunity remained widespread at all levels of government."

Amnesty International has accused Nigeria's military of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 8 000 Boko Haram suspects.

The A-29 sale would improve the US relationship with Nigeria, Africa's largest consumer market of 170 million people, the continent's biggest economy and its second-largest oil producer.

The aircraft deal also would satisfy Trump's priorities to support nations fighting Islamic uprisings, boost US manufacturing and create high-wage jobs at home.

The A-29 aircraft, which allow pilots to pinpoint targets at night, are assembled in Jacksonville, Florida.

Trump to sell attack planes to Nigeria for Boko Haram fight

"It's hard to argue that any country in Africa is more important than Nigeria for the geopolitical and other strategic interests of the US," said J. Peter Pham, vice president of the Atlantic Council in Washington and head of its Africa Center.

Once Congress is officially notified of the sale, lawmakers who want to derail it have 30 days to pass veto-proof legislation. That's a high hurdle given Corker's support. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., chairperson of the Armed Services Committee, also said he backs the sale.

"We've really got to try to do what we can to contain them," McCain said of Boko Haram.

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I can only Hope Nigeria's will make it's own jets in the near future. We sure have the brains and the resources. Political will is what we lack. - yayahdrs8@gmail.com
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