Africa

Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari: US 'aided' Boko Haram with arms ban

US President Barack Obama speaks with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, July 20, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Muhammadu Buhari met the US President on a visit to Washington on Monday

The US has "aided and abetted" the Boko Haram Islamist militant group by refusing to provide weapons to Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari says.

A US law prevents the government from selling arms to countries which fail to tackle human rights abuses.

Mr Buhari met President Barack Obama in Washington on Monday to seek further assistance.

Boko Haram has killed some 10,000 people since 2009 and has also kidnapped hundreds of girls and women.

Last month, human rights group Amnesty International said that some 8,000 men and boys had died in Nigerian military custody after being detained as suspected militants.

The military rejected this allegation, Nigeria's president promised an investigation but there have been no further details.

The US has previously promised some $5m (£3.2m) in military assistance to the regional coalition helping to fight Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

However, Mr Buhari heavily criticised the US, especially the Leahy Law, which links military sales to human rights.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nigeria's military is currently fighting Boko Haram in the north-east of the country

The Nigerian military did "not possess the appropriate weapons and technology which we could have had if the so-called human rights violations had not been an obstacle," he told the United States Institute of Peace on Wednesday.

"Unwittingly, and I dare say unintentionally, the application of the Leahy Law Amendment by the United States government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorists."

In the latest suspected Boko Haram attack, at least 29 people were killed in bomb blasts at two bus stations in the north-eastern city of Gombe on Wednesday.

At least 11 people were earlier killed in the Cameroonian town of Maroua, just over the border from Gombe.

Boko Haram last year seized a huge area of north-eastern Nigeria, before being beaten back by a regional coalition, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Mr Buhari was elected in March, partly on a pledge to defeat Boko Haram.


Boko Haram at a glance

Image copyright AFP
  • Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009
  • Joined Islamic State, now calls itself "West African province"
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
  • Seized large area in north-east, where it declared caliphate
  • Regional force has retaken most territory this year
  • But suicide attacks have increased May 2015

Why Boko Haram remains a threat

Who are Boko Haram?

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