Security cooperation between Nigeria and the United States of America (U.S.A) has neither been halted nor frozen, Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, has said.
The American Consul General made the clarifications on the heels of the controversy over the alleged suspension of the sale of weapons to Nigeria by the U.S Congress.
Pierangelo spoke on Saturday evening onboard the visiting United States Ship (USS) Hershel “Woody” Williams at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) jetty in Apapa, Lagos State.
The Nation reports that USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, an Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) 4 permanently deployed in Africa, is in Lagos for a three-day sea exercise with operatives of the Nigerian Navy and their Ghanaian counterparts.
The ESB ship class is a highly flexible platform that may be used across a broad range of military operations.
Pierangelo said the U.S sales and transfers of weapons to the Nigerian military currently exceed $559 million.
The envoy emphasised the commitment of the U.S.A to supporting Nigeria’s defence requirements.
She said: “Let me address first the questions of the role of the U.S Congress in terms of selling weapons. All foreign military sales, regardless of which country needs congressional notification threshold, must have completed the statutory congressional review process prior to the sale being completed and any equipment under that sale being delivered.
“So, there’s a very robust process in the United States congressional notification. No military sales can go forward without that being done and no military sales will ever be delivered or scheduled whilst subject to any kind of congressional hold or any statutory restrictions.
“The U.S is committed to supporting Nigeria’s defence requirements while also ensuring that respect for democracy and human rights remain a key priority in the bilateral relationship.”
“We take seriously our obligations to ensure that all arms sales and transfers are consistent with the law and with the President’s commitment that U.S arms sales and transfers be consistent with our values, including promoting respect for human rights in compliance with the laws of arms conflict.
“So, current security cooperation continues with Nigeria. It has not been halted or frozen. The current value of sales and transfers of capabilities to the Nigerian military exceed some $559 million. We know the arrival of the first 12 A29 Super Tucano is part of that sale. We are working closely with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to make the first six A29 operational and delivering the next six in the coming months.
“In addition, we will be working with the Nigerian military to develop additional capabilities to reduce the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties as our partnership here includes an advisor in the law of arms…”
Asked if there were plans by the U.S to transfer naval assets to Nigerian Navy (NN) under the Excess Defence Article programme, Pierangelo said talks were on, adding that the NN had indicated interest in the number of equipment and that there were eligible to request.
“The NN has expressed great interest in receiving ships from the Excess Defence Article programs. They are of course eligible. Our partnership remains strong with Nigerian Navy. We are here to train and work with the Nigerian Navy. It is important we engage with Nigerian agencies,” she said.
On the visit of the ship, Pierangelo said it was part of the U.S-Nigeria bilateral relationship, which she described as one of the most important in Africa.
In his remarks, the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Chad Graham, who was received by the Operations Officer of the NN’s Western Naval Command (WNC), Commodore Daupreye Matthew, noted that piracy within the Gulf of Guinea was on the decline this year, compared to 2020.