…US seeks transparency in multiple civilian deaths in Army-Shiite clash
By Gbenga Ogundare
The United States Government has planned funding to the tune of $607.5 million in foreign assistance to Nigeria for the Fiscal year 2016.
The aid proposal was disclosed by Sean J. McIntosh, First Secretary and Spokesman of the U.S Embassy Abuja Monday evening.
The primary goal of U.S. foreign assistance to Nigeria is to mobilize key institutions to support a resilient, equitable, and better-governed nation. To
achieve this goal, the U.S. assistance in 2016 seeks to improve Nigeria’s performance within federal, state, and local governments.
It is believed that in offering the assistance, the United States seeks to help improve the economic stability, security, and well-being of Nigerians by strengthening democratic institutions, improving transparency and accountability, and professionalizing security forces.
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The US foreign assistance package for 2015 was $693.85m, according to the US foreign assistance site.
McIntosh, also used the opportunity to reiterate the commitment of America in providing support for Nigeria in its fight against corruption through ongoing technical assistance programs to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to bolster the anti corruption agency’s capacity to investigate and prosecute cases.
“President Buhari has made it clear that fighting corruption is one of his top priorities. As a partner, the United States stands ready to support the Government of Nigeria in battling this problem that incurs major socio-economic costs.”
The U.S government also disclosed that it would support a process with investigative procedures, transparent and adherence to the rule of law in the fight to stem corruption.
In response to the Shiite-Army clash last year, McIntosh said that the U.S is deeply concerned by reports of the violent clashes between members of the Nigerian Army and the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria, which led to multiple civilian deaths.
“While the US Embassy continues to seek further details of the incident, we continue to call on the government of Nigeria to investigate transparently these reports and hold to account any individuals found to have committed abuses. We expect all governments, including our Nigerian partners, to prioritize the protection of civilians, respect for human rights, the rule of law, and accountability for security force abuses.
Human Rights Watch said at least 300 people were killed in a two-day assault and many buried in mass graves when the Nigerian Army clashed with the Shiite Sect last December.
The Nigerian Army hasn’t respond to the allegation.
Though various committees have been set up to investigate the attack, none has been transparent.