Jonathan denies Britain offered to rescue Chibok girls through military ops

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Former President, Goodluck Jonathan: Is he laughing at us?

A report by British online newspaper that its armed forces offered to attempt to rescue abducted Chibok girls but were rebuffed by former President Goodluck Jonathan, has been denied by the former leader who stopped short of describing the story as a lie.

The online report added: In a mission named Operation Turus, the RAF conducted air reconnaissance over northern Nigeria for several months, following the kidnapping of 276 girls from the town of Chibok in April 2014. “The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission,” a source involved in Operation Turus told the Observer. “We offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined.”The girls were then tracked by the aircraft as they were dispersed into progressively smaller groups over the following months, the source added.

But Jonathan said through his spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze, that nothing could be farther from the truth.

“We wish to promptly point out that nothing can be further from the
truth, as Nigerians are conversant with the effort made by the
Jonathan administration towards rescuing the Chibok girls, especially
in relation to collaborating with the international community, in the
bid.

“We can confidently say that the lies in this report are self evident.
This is because the international press as well as the Nigeria media
actively covered the multinational efforts and collaboration which
involved some of the major powers deploying their crack intelligence
officers to work with our own security operatives, and those of our
neighbours.

“In the course of the mission, the international team, including
members from Nigeria’s neighbours of Chad, Niger and Cameroun, met
regularly with our own intelligence officers to plan and conduct their
operations.

“In fact, the Jonathan administration was so genuinely supportive that
the foreign powers involved were granted permission to overfly our
airspace, while conducting the search and rescue missions.

“We would wish to recall that this collaboration was made possible
following letters personally written by former President Jonathan to
President Barack Obama of the United States, President Francois
Hollande of France, Mr. David Cameron, the former Prime Minister of
the United Kingdom, as well as personal contacts made to the
Governments of Israel and China, seeking their assistance in the
search for the abducted Chibok girls.

Jonathan said he was surprised at he story, pointing out that it was the handiwork of those playing politics with the issue of the Chibok girls.

the guardian.com said notes from meetings between UK and Nigerian officials, suggest that Nigeria shunned international offers to rescue the girls. While Nigeria welcomed an aid package and assistance from the US, the UK and France in looking for the girls, it viewed any action to be taken against kidnapping as a “national issue”.

“Nigeria’s intelligence and military services must solve the ultimate problem,” said Jonathan in a meeting with the UK’s then Africa minister, Mark Simmonds, on 15 May 2014.Facebook
The foreign newspaper report reads further: A document summarising a meeting in Abuja in September 2014 between Nigeria’s national security adviser and James Duddridge MP, former under-secretary of state at the Foreign Office, shows Operation Turus had advanced to the point where rescue options were being discussed. Minutes from a meeting the following month between Major-General James Chiswell and Jonathan hinted at the frustration felt by those trying to prompt some action from Nigeria.
“[President] Jonathan was still focused on ‘platforms’. General Chiswell said again we could offer advice on what equipment might make sense and how weapon systems might be best deployed,” the October 2014 document stated.

The Nigerian government did not respond to a request for comment. The Foreign Office said: “We wouldn’t comment on specific operational details, which are a matter for the Nigerian government and military.”

Jonathan has drawn criticism at home and abroad for a lack of action and perceived apathy over the kidnappings. The government was slow to mount any response in the weeks after the girls were taken. The governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima, also publicly criticised Jonathan for failing to even call him or any other state official for 19 days after the kidnappings. Jonathan also hit out at the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign, branding it a “manipulation” of the victims of the attack.

Boko Haram had raided the dormitories of the government secondary school at Chibok. The girls staying there had braved warnings of an attack to sit their final examinations. Boko Haram looted the school and then burned it to the ground. The kidnappings also blighted the lives of the girls from the town who were not taken away, as many have been too scared to continue their education.

In addition to Nigeria, Boko Haram is active in regions of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. According to Unicef, more than 1.3 million children have now been displaced. Some of those taken by Boko Haram have been forced to become child soldiers: one in five suicide bombers in Nigeria are believed to be children, and three-quarters of those are girls.

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