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The United States is set to relax the restrictions on Nigeria in its ability to procure weapons from America and its allies under the country’s Leahy Law, US congressman, Rep Darrel Issah, said monday.
The Leahy Law is a US human rights law that prohibits its Department of State and Department of Defence from providing military assistance to foreign military units that allegedly violate human rights.
Issah made the statement while fielding questions from journalists shortly after a closed-door meeting with service chiefs and Ministry of Defence officials at the National Defence College (NDC) in Abuja monday.
Issah, who led the US delegation, said discussions centred on a wide range of issues, especially the area of technical support in fighting the Boko Haram terror group.
He said the lifting of restrictions was a fallout of the policy of the new military command with regards to the ongoing military operations in the country.
“There were a number of things that were discussed at the meeting but basically the need for additional technical support including overhead surveillance. This was discussed because it is important in the fight against Boko Haram.
“This is because of the trust in the new regime which has began the process of ensuring that the military’s professionalism in the battle field is made in a way that we all can be confident that the rule of law is followed.
“Following this development, we have began the process of lifting restriction under the Leahy Law but the vast majority of the support US provides will be given regardless of the restrictions.
“The vast majority of support the US provides will continue regardless of the restrictions. The support will also include training, technical support and equipment supplied will never stop but will continue.
“We are looking to work with the president (Muhammadu Buhari) and new general staff (chief of defence staff and service chiefs) to work to make sure that the people of Nigeria have the confidence in the professionalism of the military, something the people can rely on.
“To make the military something that the people will rely on as the nation tries to clear insurgents and protect the civilians; that is important to the new president of Nigeria, our president (Barack Obama) and it is also important to the congress.
“But we are looking forward to a great difference in the relationship, a proactive relationship and one in which we can provide a greater level of support,” he said.