The United States has approved a nearly $1 billion weapons sale to Nigeria, after lawmakers put the deal on hold due to concerns about possible human rights violations by the Nigerian government.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee both put a halt to the sale of 12 Bell AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters in July.
The State Department announced on Thursday that it would approve the sale of the $997 million attack helicopters.
“This proposed sale will support the United States’ foreign policy goals and national security objectives by improving the security of a strategic partner in Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to a statement about the sale.
Nigeria has been battling rising armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom where thinly deployed security forces have struggled to contain the influence of armed gangs.
U.S. officials have complained of “excessive force” by Nigerian military forces on unarmed civilians and called for restraint after soldiers in October 2020 opened fire on protesters demonstrating against police brutality in Lagos.