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Despite reports of right abuses, US approves sales of $1 billion military helicopter to Nigeria

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Despite concerns about the Nigerian army’s human rights record, The Biden administration in the US has granted approval for Nigeria to buy advanced attack helicopters worth nearly $1 billion.

The State Department on Thursday announced the approval of the $997 million sales of 24 Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters and related equipment to Nigeria. The related equipment includes guidance, night vision, and targeting systems as well as engines and training support, the department said in a notice to Congress.

According to the rights group, Amnesty International, the Nigerian security forces have committed a catalogue of human rights violations and crimes under international law in their response to spiralling violence in Southeast Nigeria, carrying out a repressive campaign since January which has included sweeping mass arrests, excessive and unlawful force, and torture and other ill-treatment.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the department told Congress.

The deal will also “better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the U.S. and other Western partners” and “will be a major contribution to U.S. and Nigerian security goals,” the notice said.

Blinken had hinted in his visit to Nigeria in November that the U.S. was looking forward to seeing the full results of the investigation and would make a decision on arms sales to Nigeria based in part on the findings and whether those responsible were held accountable.

Terrorist activities have taken an upward trend in Nigeria since the deadly Boko Haram sect based in North-Eastern Nigeria, which is also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon was founded in 2002. It is believed that the acquired combat helicopter will enhance Nigeria’s battle over insurgency and terrorism at a large.

Musings From Abroad

UN rights chief pushes for reparations for slavery

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United Nations head of human rights on Friday called on countries to take real steps toward reparations for people of African descent. He appealed while adding his voice to calls for justice for the horrible crimes committed during slavery.

African and Caribbean countries are becoming more in favour of setting up a panel to deal with reparations for crimes that happened during the transatlantic slave trade. Reparations could include money payments and other forms of making amends.

“I join your demands for action now,” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said in an address at the closing of the four-day U.N. Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD).

“On reparations, we must finally enter a new era. Governments must step up to show true leadership with genuine commitments to move swiftly from words to action that will adequately address the wrongs of the past.”

Although Turk did not say how reparations should be handled, he however expressed support for the group but is not one of its 10 members.

The idea of making reparations has become more popular but remains controversial, and most countries that used to colonize others do not agree with it with some expressing remorse for being part of the transatlantic slave trade and planning a 200 million euro fund to make up for it.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office recently admitted that the country was responsible for transatlantic slavery, but there were no plans to pay reparations because “today’s challenges” should be the focus.

The PFPAD, which can’t make laws but can give advice to other U.N. groups, released its findings on Friday and reiterated as it did in 2023, that a court should be set up to deal with slavery. This time, it said that the General Assembly, which makes policy for the UN, should be used to ask for this.

It specifically asked the proposed court to look into what happened in Haiti “and provide reparations, restitution, and compensation appropriately.” This came after Haitian groups at the forum asked France to repay the billions of dollars that people who had been slaves were forced to pay in exchange for the island’s independence being recognized two hundred years ago.

Lately, there has been the return of some “stolen” artefacts by colonialists to some African countries like Egypt, Ghana and Nigeria.

Over 90% of the world’s 193 countries of the world were colonized by notable eleven – Belgium, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, The Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, and the United States of America.

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Musings From Abroad

US bans four former Malawian officials over bribery

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The United States State Department said on Wednesday that four former government officials from Malawi were not allowed to come to the US because they were involved in major crime.

“The United States stands with Malawians working towards a more just and prosperous nation by promoting accountability for corrupt officials, including advocating for transparency and integrity in government procurement processes,” department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The people named are Reyneck Matemba, who used to be solicitor general and secretary of justice, John Suzi-Banda, who used to be director of public procurement and disposal of assets, Mwabi Kaluba, who used to be an attorney for the Malawi Police Service, and George Kainja, who used to be inspector general of the Malawi Police Service.

The State Department said that the four “abused their public positions by accepting bribes and other articles of value” from a private businessperson in exchange for a grant to work on government policy.

In the past few years, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has been fighting crime hard. In January 2022, he got rid of the whole Cabinet because three ministers were being accused of corruption.

Later that same year, Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau caught and charged Saulos Klaus Chilima, the vice president of the country, with graft. According to the group, public officers in Malawi stole money from the government by trying to change how contracts were awarded through the country’s public procurement system.

A lot of people in Malawi live on less than $2 a day, making it one of the most fragile places in the world. The population density puts it in the top 10 in Africa, even though it is a small country.

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