The animosity between the Nigerian government and its American counterpart has deepened with the Nigerian government cancelling a plan to have the United States military train a battalion of the Nigerian army to confront the extremist Boko Haram sect.
Nigerian officials did not provide reasons for the decision Monday, but the United States government said it regretted the move.
“At the request of the Nigerian government, the United States will discontinue its training of a Nigerian Army battalion,” the U.S. government, through its embassy in Abuja, said in a statement.
Relations between the two countries have been at a record low with Nigeria accusing the United States of not providing sufficient support for its fight against Boko Haram.
After months of informal allegations, the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. Ade Adefuye, had in November openly accused the United States of refusing to sell arms and equipment to Nigeria to help defeat Boko Haram.
In its response, the American government said it has supported Nigeria to the extent its law permits, and accused the Nigerian security forces of human rights violations.
The U.S. said its laws disallow sales of arms to countries with such human rights record.
Even so, the American government said it has provided some military equipment to Nigeria.
The two countries are not also relating well economically after the U.S. fully suspended buying Nigerian crude oil in July, a decision that helped plunge Nigeria into one of its most severe financial crises as oil price falls to a seven-year low.
It is not clear whether the latest decision to suspend the military training relates to previous economic and military incidents between the two countries.
Nigeria’s supervising Minister for Information, Nurudeen Mohammed, could not be reached immediately, as well as presidential spokespersons, Reuben Abati and Doyin Okupe,.
But the U.S. government said in its statement that the first two phases of the training were conducted between April and August 2014, and had provided previously untrained civilian personnel with basic soldiering skills.
“Based on mutual assessment of the Nigerian Army and U.S. trainers, a third iteration of training was agreed upon with the intent of developing the battalion into a unit with advanced infantry skills.
“We regret premature termination of this training, as it was to be the first in a larger planned project that would have trained additional units with the goal of helping the Nigerian Army build capacity to counter Boko Haram,” it said.
The statement however said the U.S. government would continue other aspects of its extensive bilateral security relationship, as well as all other assistance programs, with Nigeria.