The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been "aided and abetted" by the United States, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday.
The Obama administration's use of the Leahy act to block arms sales to Nigeria due to "human rights abuses," which some have charged was retaliation for the country's anti-gay laws, have rendered Nigeria "largely impotent" to combat the horrific terrorist group.
"In the face of abduction of innocent school girls … indiscriminate bombings of civilians in markets and places of worship, our forces have remained largely impotent because they do not possess the appropriate weapons and technology which they could have had, had the so-called human rights violations not been an obstacle," said Buhari.
"Blanket application" of the Leahy act due to "unproven allegations of human rights violations levelled against our forces" denied Nigeria "access to appropriate strategic weapons to prosecute the war," Buhari said at the United Institute for Peace Wednesday. He may have been referring to a report last month by Amnesty International which charged that the Nigerian military, in its fight against Boko Haram, had sanctioned or failed to prevent the deaths of more than 8,000 men and boys. The Nigerian military rejects the claim.
Boko Haram has killed over 10,000 people since 2009 and has kidnapped, enslaved, and forced the marriage of hundreds of girls and women to its jihadis. Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," has been trying since 2002 to establish an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria. It seized large swaths of territory in the region and engages in near-daily suicide attacks. 29 people were killed in a suspected attack by the group in Gombe Wedneday.
Boko Haram now calls itself the "West Africa province" of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which it has joined.
The Obama administration's application of the Leahy amendment "has aided and abated the Boko Haram terrorist group in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate, the indiscriminate killings and maiming of civilians, in raping of women and girls, and in their other heinous crimes," said Buhari. "I believe this is not the spirit of the Leahy Laws. I know the American people cannot support any group engaged in these crimes."
The Nigerian newspaper Premium Times claims that Obama snubbed Nigeria by sending $35 million in military support to France, a country which backs the military of Chad, Niger and Mali in their fight against Boko Haram and "ignoring Nigeria [the country] that has been at the centre of the five-year insurgency."
The U.S. repeatedly blocked Nigeria's efforts to buy arms, including the sale of Cobra fighter-helicopters which Nigeria attempted to buy from Israel, the Premium Times reports. Israel "had okayed the deal from its own inventory, but needed U.S. approval [which it failed to receive] since the fighter-helicopters were [made in] America."
In June the U.S. promised $5 million in military assistance to help fund several nations, including Nigeria, fight Boko Haram.
Buhari seeks further assistance from Washington and met with President Obama Monday.
"The government that I lead is committed, and will do whatever it takes, to free Nigeria from the menace of terrorism," said Buhari Wednesday. "No matter how long it takes, we will reclaim every inch of Nigerian territory that is under the control of Boko Haram."
"As a government, we have no illusions whatsoever about the enormity of the challenges ahead of us," he said. "We know that it will be a long and bruising struggle, but this is a fight we are in to win. Failure is not an option for us. We do not contemplate it."