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Nigerian ambassador blasts US refusal to sell arms

JOHANNESBURG — Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States accused Washington of refusing to sell ‘‘lethal weapons’’ to fight his country’s Islamic uprising, saying the extremists otherwise would have been defeated long ago.

Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye said that the United States is letting down an old ally in its hour of need, and that Nigeria’s people and government feel abandoned.

‘‘The US government has up till today refused to grant Nigeria’s request to purchase lethal equipment that would have brought down the terrorists within a short time,’’ Adefuye told members of the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations Monday.

‘‘We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the US presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly.’’

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Adefuye said that Washington has refused Nigeria’s requests to buy heavy weaponry because of allegations that the defense forces have violated the human rights of Boko Haram suspects. It was not possible to get an immediate response from US officials, but US laws ban sales of lethal weapons to countries with a military accused of gross human rights abuses.

Adefuye dismissed the allegations as rumors spread by political opponents.

An Associated Press investigation found Nigerian troops responsible for the deaths of thousands of detainees since a state of emergency was imposed in May 2013 in three northeastern states.

Associated Press