Nigerian President: U.S. Refusal To Provide Weapons Aides Extremism

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Nigeria's president says the United States' refusal to sell his country needed weapons is aiding and abetting Islamist extremists waging a deadly campaign there. President Muhammadu Buhari made his comments as he ended a four-day visit to the U.S. this week.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's a charge from the new president of Nigeria. He says the Obama administration's refusal to sell his country weapons to battle Boko Haram is aiding and abetting the extremists. The comments came at the end of his first official visit this week to the U.S. and coincide with the latest deadly attacks in Nigeria. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Northeastern Nigeria and the far Northeast of neighboring Cameroon have again been rocked by bomb blasts killing about 30 people and blamed on Boko Haram insurgents. The raids came hours after Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari spoke at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington, saying his country's military is, quote, "largely impotent in the fight against Boko Haram militants." Buhari partly blamed the U.S. for that, specifically the administration's application of the Leahy Amendment prohibiting military support to armed forces accused of human rights abuses.

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MUHAMMADU BUHARI: Unwittingly and, I dare say, unintentionally, the United States government has aided and abetted the Boko Haram terrorists in the prosecution of its extremist ideology and hate.

QUIST-ARCTON: The Nigerian leader is appealing to President Obama and Congress to be more flexible about the Leahy Law. President Buhari, himself a former military ruler and army general, argues that alleged rights abuses by Nigeria's armed forces have not been substantiated. Amnesty International says the Nigerian military is responsible for the deaths of up to 8,000 detainees in its campaign to defeat Boko Haram insurgents. The White House has again pledged its cooperation in Nigeria's fight against the extremists, including the hunt for more than 200 missing schoolgirls abducted last year by Boko Haram.

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SUSAN RICE: The search for the girls will continue to be, for the Nigerian people and for the American people, a very heartfelt priority.

QUIST-ARCTON: That's Susan Rice, President Obama's national security advisor.

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RICE: Our cooperation in terms of information sharing and helping to provide the Nigerians with additional capacity to counter Boko Haram has been a critical thrust of our relationship with Nigeria and one that we expect will intensify now that President Buhari is in office.

QUIST-ARCTON: President Buhari flew home to Nigeria today after his first official four-day U.S. visit. But despite a warm welcome and talks with President Obama, the Nigerian leader failed to get all he had hoped for. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Dakar. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.