Call for suspension and review of UK military and police training in Nigeria

By agency reporter
October 31, 2020

Campaign Against Arms Trade has called for a review of all UK training that has been provided for the Nigerian police and military. This follows weeks of state violence against campaigners in Nigeria who have been protesting against police brutality.

In a letter sent to Kate Osamor MP by James Duddridge MP, the Minister for Africa, it was confirmed that the UK has provided training and communications equipment to the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit, which has been linked to extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and other abuses.

There have also been multiple accusations of torture and abuses against the Nigerian military. A 2020 report from Amnesty International found that at least 10,000 people have died in military detention over the last decade.

Reporting from Amnesty shows that at least 10 protesters were killed in a shooting in Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos on 20 October 2020. The organisation alleges that military personnel opened fire on protesters. The Nigerian army initially denied that it was present, but has subsequently confirmed that it was, although it denies that the shooting was done by military personnel.

According to a parliamentary answer from 2020, the UK provided dozens of military training courses for Nigerian forces in 2019 and 2020, including:

  • International Urban Operations Instructors Course (2018/19)
  • Defence Train The Trainer (2018/19)
  • Building Integrity For Senior Leaders (2018/19)
  • Urban Operations Instructor Course (2019/20)
  • All Arms Basic Tactics Course (2019/20) ('all arms' refers to all branches of armed forces, not all weapons)

In 2017 there were 350 UK military personnel in Nigeria for military training purposes, with over 6000 Nigerian troops being trained.

The UK has licensed £43 million worth of arms since 2015, including £19 million worth of military vehicles and almost £1 million worth of small arms.

Nigerian forces have been regular attendees of UK arms fairs, including DSEI, which they most recently attended in 2019, and Security & Policing, which focuses on policing equipment, which they last attended in 2019.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "The brutal crackdown that we have seen inflicted on anti-SARS protesters is appalling and must be condemned in the strongest terms. The SARS unit is not fit for purpose, and UK forces should not have been working with it or doing anything that could strengthen it.

"There must be an immediate suspension to all police and military training provided by UK personnel, and a full and urgent investigation into if any of the forces or individuals trained by UK forces have been implicated in the terrible violence that we have seen. The UK government has a long and shameful history of arming, supporting and enabling human rights abusers around the world. It should not be providing moral cover for those that commit abuses, or doing anything that can help them to become more effective in their repression."

* Campaign Against Arms Trade https://caat.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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