Tom Marino who is a member of the US congress has written a letter to the secretary of state, John Kerry asking the US to stop providing security assistance to Nigeria. This Day reports that Marino accused President Muhammadu Buhari of autocratic tendency and therefore doesn’t deserve the help of the US until he displays a “commitment to inclusive government and the most basic tenets of democracy: freedom to assemble and freedom of speech”.
In the letter dated Thursday, September 1, the congressman said there were some signs that showed that “the man who once led Nigeria as a military dictator might be sliding towards former autocratic tendencies”. Marino also touched on the anti-corruption war championed by President Buhari and described it as selective. “Of additional concern 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. Politicizing his anti-corruption efforts has only reinforced hostility among southerners”.
He wrote: “Dear Secretary Kerry, 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 U.S. 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.” “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. “Also, in separate incidents concerning the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), 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 congressman described Buhari as a military head of state whose previous reign was cut short by a military coup but that in his second coming, he has refused to embrace an inclusive government. “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, adding a religious aspect to long-held regional biases. “Of additional concern 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. Politicizing his anti-corruption efforts has only reinforced hostility among southerners.”
Marino who is a member of the US committees on the judiciary, homeland security and foreign affairs, and the chairman, sub-committee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law advised the Obama administration to stop selling warplanes and weapons to Nigeria and urge the Buhari administration to hold its soldiers and police accountable. “This is a logical first step in making a demonstrable, sustained commitment to inclusive democracy, with distributed power in Nigeria. Until President Buhari establishes a track record of working towards inclusion, we ask the State Department to refrain from selling warplanes and other military equipment to the country.
“The State Department should urge President Buhari to form a government that represents the diversity of its citizens and allows dissenting voices to be heard. Democracy can thrive only if people are free to assemble, to express their beliefs, and voice their concerns.” The US secretary of state visited Nigeria a few weeks ago were he applauded President Buhari on his fight against corruption and promised that the US will help in any way it can. Kerry said: “We applaud what you are doing. Corruption creates a ready-made playing field for recruiting extremists. You inherited a big problem, and we will support you in any way we can. We will work with you very closely. We don’t want to interfere, but will offer opportunities as you require.”
Read more: https://www.naij.com/955121-us-congressman-writes-john-kerry-buhari-dictator-strengthening-g-north.html