Nigerian ambassador blasts US refusal to sell lethal weapons for war on Islamic extremists

Nigeria's ambassador to the United States has castigated Washington for refusing to sell "lethal weapons" to fight his country's Islamic uprising, saying the extremists otherwise would have been defeated long ago.

Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye accused the United States of letting down an old ally in its hour of need. And he said Nigeria's people and government feel abandoned by America.

"The U.S. 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 meeting at his embassy Monday night.

"We find it difficult to understand how and why, in spite of the U.S. presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly," he said.

Nigeria's military chief on Oct. 17 announced that the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group had agreed to an immediate cease-fire, but the militants have responded with more and deadlier attacks and now control an area of some 20,000 kilometers (7,700 square miles) along the border with Cameroon.

Adefuye confirmed that Washington has refused Nigeria's requests for certain weaponry because of allegations that Nigeria's defense forces have been violating the human rights of detainees accused of belonging to Boko Haram.

Human rights groups and an Associated Press investigation found Nigerian troops responsible for the deaths of thousands of detainees since a state of military emergency was imposed in May 2014 in the three northeastern states where the insurgency has destroyed any semblance of normal life.

U.S. laws ban sales of lethal weapons to countries whose military are accused of gross human rights abuses.

Adefuye said the allegations are based on rumors spread by political opponents and journalists who favor the opposition as Nigeria prepares for February presidential elections.