Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the United States’ State Department, said Wednesday that Nigeria was free to purchase fighter helicopters from any other country, in apparent justification of her government’s refusal to sell same to the country. It was the second official response to accusation by high-ranking Nigerian military and diplomatic officials that the US blocked sale of lethal military hardware to the country to effectively combat insurgency in the Northeast.
“Nothing in our decision prevents Nigeria from obtaining weapons and equipment from other sources,” Psaki said. Nigeria is seeking to buy Cobra helicopters from the US among other military hardware.
Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, Nigerian envoy to the US Monday told the Council on Foreign Relations that the US government had not assisted the country enough in its anti-terrorism campaign. Adefuye said the US attributed its lack lustre to Nigeria’s request human rights abuses against captured insurgents and civilians in the affected areas.
The envoy said, among other things: “We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria, with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly.”
On this, Psaki said rather the inability of the Nigerian military to use and maintain was responsible. She confirmed request for the helicopters, saying that “earlier this year, we denied the transfer of some cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria due to concerns about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain this type of helicopter in its effort against Boko Haram and ongoing concerns about the Nigerian military’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations.”
The Cobra attack helicopter, or Snake, is a two-blade, heavy engine helicopter with the ability to climb at 8.2meters per second. Wikipedia says it is the backbone of the United States Army’s attack helicopter fleet. Paski promised the US would continue “to look for ways to deepen our cooperation with Nigeria to help it acquire the systems and skills needed to restore peace and security.” She also said there had been sharing of intelligence with the Nigerian military in the past months.