Inexplicably, the federal government has joined the fray in the disagreement between British newspaper, The Guardian, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Monday, government spokesman and Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, urged former President Goodluck Jonathan to stop engaging in finger-pointing over the issue of the Chibok girls who were abducted under his watch, calling such action an unnecessary distraction from ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls who remain in captivity, long after they were abducted.
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, was denied by the former leader who stopped short of describing the story as a lie.
The online report had said that 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, adding that politics was at play on the issue of the Chibok girls.
In a statement in Abuja on Monday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted that while Jonathan reserved the right to defend his Administration, he should not engage in finger-pointing by saying politics was at play.
Lai said if anyone ever played politics with the issue of Chibok girls, it was the Administration under whose watch the girls were abducted.
An observer said Mohammed’s statement “smacked of a busybody attitude and a guilty conscience” to have gotten involved in a matter “in which Jonathan was careful not to mention names.
However, Mohammed added in his statement, ”after the girls were kidnapped and the Jonathan Administration did nothing for all of 15 days or make any determined efforts to rescue them thereafter, our party, the then opposition APC, told the nation several times that the whole Boko Haram crisis was allowed to escalate by the PDP-controlled Federal Government so they can use it as a political tool ahead of the 2015 elections.
”In a statement on 8 Sept. 2014, we said: ‘President Jonathan-PDP’s political manipulation of the Boko Haram has to be understood as part of its poker-like calculus for clinging on to political power ahead of the 2015 elections. The Boko Haram crisis is readily used by the PDP to rationalize the Jonathan Government’s abdication of its constitutional responsibilities, including visits and assistance to areas affected as well as effective response to abductions (e.g. the GEJ government was silent over the Chibok girls kidnaps for over 15 days)’,
”Two-and-a-half years after that statement, we have been vindicated by the report that claimed President Jonathan rebuffed an attempt by the British government to help rescue the girls. We hope the former President will now refrain from stoking further controversy over the lingering abduction issue and allow the government of the day to focus on its ongoing negotiations to secure the release of the Chibok girls,” Alhaji Mohammed said.