US donates Toyota Land Cruisers, special equipment to Nigerian Army anti-terror unit


The United States has donated at least 10 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles and communication and force protection equipment to the Nigerian military in the ongoing battle against the spreading Boko Haram insurgency.

“The United States Government has transferred to the Nigerian Army non-lethal transportation, communication and force protection equipment in support of the Nigerian Army’s battle against terrorism. Major General Ibrahim Sani, Chief of (Nigerian) Army Transformation and Innovation, received the equipment from the Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command in Africa, General James Linder on behalf of the Nigerian Army. He said the equipment will enhance the operational capabilities of the Nigerian Army,” the US embassy in Abuja said.

A picture posted on the embassy website shows US and Nigerian army officers inspecting a row of new Toyota Land Cruisers painted in Nigerian Army special forces camouflage, as well as radios and forensic kits. The full inventory of the donation has not been ascertained.

However, media reports say the deal could be a culmination of intense diplomatic lobbying for aid following the US designation of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) in November last year.

According to the reports, the Nigerian Office of the National Security Adviser signed a $3 million per year contract with US lobbying firm Patton Boggs in November 2013 and assigned it to lobby the US government for ‘comprehensive security advice and services, including the donation of excess military and law enforcement equipment.’

The company then wrote to the US on behalf of Nigeria seeking “non-lethal protective hardware such as mine-resistant armored personnel vehicles, night vision goggles and communications equipment from Iraq and Afghanistan stockpiles left over from U.S. withdrawals from those warzones.”

In late April, the Nigerian government requested imagery, intelligence and vehicles. It said the assets are required for operations in the Sambisa Forest Region in Borno State where Boko Haram is believed to be holding the kidnapped schoolgirls. The government said the military equipment, which includes communications and individual night vision equipment, would also be used in other ‘designated areas of interest.’

However, the reports quoted State Department officials as saying while the provisions of critical tools and support for the Nigerian Army remains paramount in the face of terrorism, the US is reluctant to provide lethal anti-terror aid because of the Nigerian military’s bad record of human rights abuses during previous counter-terror operations.

In terms of US federal law, America does not provide military assistance to foreign armies unless the troops have been vetted and cleared of human rights abuses. According to Mary Harf, deputy spokesperson of the US State Department, the US provided the Nigerian Army with non-lethal anti-terror aid and training worth $20 million in 2012.

Following the kidnap of the 200 Chibok schoolgirls and a widening spate of terror attacks which continues unabated in Nigeria, the US has upgraded Boko Haram from Foreign Terrorist Organisation status to a Military Tier One Threat (MTOT), which effectively declares it a national security threat to the US homeland and its global interests.

The US Army is already training a 650-member Nigerian army ‘Rangers’ special anti-terror force.