ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria and Russia have signed a military cooperation deal providing a legal framework for the supply of equipment and the training of troops, the Nigerian embassy in Moscow said on Wednesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed interest in such a pact with Russia as far back as 2019, when he met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at a Russia-Africa summit.
The Nigerian ambassador to Russia at the time said Buhari felt Russia could help defeat the Boko Haram Islamic insurgency in the northeast of the country, which remains a major problem.
“The Agreement on Military-Technical Cooperation between both countries provides a legal framework for the supply of military equipment, provision of after sales services, training of personnel in respective educational establishments and technology transfer, among others,” the Nigerian embassy said in a statement.
It described the pact as a landmark development in bilateral relations between Abuja and Moscow.
Nigeria already uses some Russian fighter jets and helicopters, alongside military equipment purchased from Western powers such as the United States.
Reuters reported in July that U.S. lawmakers had put a hold on a proposal to sell almost $1 billion of weapons to Nigeria over concerns about possible human rights abuses by the government.
Three sources familiar with the matter said at the time the proposed sale of 12 attack helicopters and related equipment was being delayed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Sandra Maler)