President Trump had pledged to sell attack aircraft to Nigeria in a phone call to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after the U.S. president was sworn in last January, although there were concerns of abuse of the attack-aircrafts on the side of the Nigerian military.
Vanguard reported that the US Congress is expected to receive formal notification of setting in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama’s presidency.
One of the officials said the arrangement will give Nigeria opportunity to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million.
The officials disclosed that they could not reveal the terms and conditions of the deal.
Nigeria has been trying to buy the aircraft since 2015. In recent years, The Nigerian Air Force has been accused of bombing civilian targets at least three times.
The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, said that he supported the A-29 deal to Nigeria as well as the sale of U.S.-made fighter jets to Bahrain that had been stripped of human rights caveats imposed by the Obama administration.
Nigeria’s military has been accused of war crimes by Amnesty International over the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 8,000 Boko Haram suspects.
President Buhari had promised to investigate the alleged abuses of military power after he won office in March 2015, but no soldier has been prosecuted till date and thousands of people remain in illegal military detention.
The A-29 sale would improve the U.S. relationship with Nigeria, Africa’s largest consumer market of 170 million people, the continent’s biggest economy and its second-largest oil producer.
Nigeria also is strategically located on the edge of the Sahel, the largely lawless semi-desert region bridging north and sub-Saharan Africa where experts warn Islamic extremists like the
Nigeria-based Boko Haram may expand their reach.
The aircraft deal also would satisfy Trump’s priorities to support nations fighting Islamic uprisings, boost U.S. manufacturing and create high-wage jobs at home.