Lawmaker Wants US To Suspend Aid To Buhari’s Govt Over Alleged ‘excesses’

US Republican lawmaker, Tom Marino
US Republican lawmaker, Tom Marino

US lawmaker, Tom Marino, has written a letter to John Kerry, US secretary of state, demanding that the US withholds the assistance rendered to Nigeria based on the “autocratic tendencies” of President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to THISDAY Newspaper, the legislator claimed that there were a number of warning signs emerging in the current administration, one of which “is President Buhari’s selective anti-corruption drive, which has focused almost exclusively on members of the opposition party, over-looking corruption amongst some of Buhari’s closest advisors.”

Marino was concerned that “Politicising his (Buhari’s) anti-corruption efforts has only reinforced hostility among southerners”.

He asked the state department to refrain from selling warplanes and other military equipment to Nigeria until Buhari establishes a track record of working towards inclusion.

Marino wrote: “I am encouraged by the personal interest you have taken in aiding Nigeria and its administration as it takes on endemic corruption, multiple insurgent movements, and a faltering economy.

“However, I believe there are a number of warning signs emerging in the Buhari administration that signal ‘the man who once led Nigeria as a military dictator might be sliding towards former autocratic tendencies.

“I would urge the US to withhold its security assistance to the nation until President Buhari demonstrates a commitment to inclusive government and the most basic tenets of democracy: freedom to assemble and freedom of speech.

“A logical start towards this commitment is for the Nigerian government to hold accountable those members of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian military complicit in extra-judicial killings and war crimes.

“Human rights groups like Amnesty International have widely documented torture, inhumane treatment, and extra-judicial killings of defenseless Nigerians since President Buhari took office.”

Marino referred to a report by Amnesty International which states that “in the last six months, Nigeria’s military has unlawfully killed at least 350 people and allowed more than 168 people, including babies and children, to die in military detention.”

“The Secretary to the Government of Kaduna State even admitted to burying 347 of those killed in a mass grave.

“And while President Buhari promised swift condemnation, his words rang empty.

“Instead of swift reforms, Buhari chose to reinstate Major General Ahmadu Mohammed, who Amnesty International revealed was in charge of the Nigerian military unit that executed more than 640 unarmed, former detainees,” he pointed out.

With regards to the clashes between the Nigerian Army and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Marino said “the Nigerian Army has killed at least 36 – the real number is likely higher – people since December 2015 in an attempt to silence opposition and quell attempts by the group to gather publicly.”

The Republican Party member recalled that President Buhari as a former military dictator whose reign was cut short by a coup, adding that the president, on his return to power, has continually shunned inclusivity in favour of surrounding himself with advisors and ministers from the north of the country and the region he considers home.

He said: “Of President Buhari’s 122 appointees, 77 are from the north and control many of the key ministries and positions of power.

“Distrust is already high in Nigeria and favouring Northerners for key appointments has only antagonized the issue.






     

     

    “These appointments are also primarily Muslim in the north and Christian in the south.”

    On the current anti-corruption campaign of the current administration, Marino said the process seems selective and “has focused almost exclusively on members of the opposition party, over-looking corruption amongst some of Buhari’s closest advisors.”

    The legislator advised the US State Department to urge President Buhari “to form a government that represents the diversity of its citizens and allows dissenting voices to be heard.”

    He maintained that “Democracy can thrive only if people are free to assemble, to express their beliefs, and voice their concerns.”

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