US President Donald Trump said today as their military launched air strikes against Syria: “I also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting equipping and financing the criminal Assad regime. To Iran and to Russia, I ask: what kind of a nation wants to to be associated with a mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”
The United States is quite happy to associate with Nigeria. And mass murder of civilians is standard operating procedure for the Nigerian military. In fact, the Americans donated 24 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) to the Nigerian army in January 2016. About three of those vehicles were used in what they called “Operation Python Dance” against civilian pro-Biafran agitators in Abia State in September last year in which there are claims that dozens of people were killed.
The Trump administration also sold aircraft to the Nigeria Airforce ostensibly for fighting the Boko Haram insurgency, despite legislation (the Leahy Law) which prohibits selling arms to regimes with questionable human rights records. Additionally, the US military also provides assistance in terms of training for Nigeria’s armed forces. Earlier this year, 12 US soldiers were in Nigeria on a six-week mission to train the Nigerian army.
In addition to shooting unarmed pro-Biafran protesters, the Nigerian army has been indicted by a Kaduna State government inquiry for the killing of over 300 Shia Muslim civilians and burying them in shallow graves in Zaria, Kaduna State in December 2015. There are many other atrocities against civilians in the northeast while fighting the Boko Haram insurgency. All these are parts of preliminary investigation being carried out by the International Criminal Court.
So going back to Trump’s question “what kind of nation wants to to be associated with a mass murder of innocent men, women and children”, the answer is: the United States.