How Jonathan rejected UK’s offer to rescue Chibok girls




The British Armed Forces offered to attempt to rescue the 276 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014, but were rebuffed by former President Goodluck Jonathan at the time, The Observer of the United Kingdom has reported.


In a mission named Operation Turus, the newspaper said the BAF conducted air reconnaissance over northern Nigeria for several months, following the kidnapping of the girls from their dormitory.

“The girls were located in the first few weeks of the BAF mission,” a source involved in Operation Turus told The Observer. “We offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined.”

It said the girls were then tracked by the aircraft as they were dispersed into progressively smaller groups over the following months, the source added.

The Observer further reported that notes from meetings between United Kingdom and Nigerian officials, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, also 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 May 15, 2014.

A document summarising a meeting in Abuja in September 2014 between Nigeria’s national security adviser and James Duddridge MP, a 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 between Maj. Gen. James Chiswell and Jonathan the following month, hinted at the frustration felt by those trying to prompt some action from Nigeria.

“(President) Jonathan was still focused on ‘platforms.’ Gen. 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.

But Jonathan on Sunday faulted reports that his administration refused offers from the UK for the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls.

In a statement issued on his behalf by his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, the former President said he personally invited major world powers such as the US, UK and Holland among others to be part of the rescue mission to free the abducted girls.

Specifically, he said his administration was so supportive of these countries that they were granted permission to overfly Nigeria’s airspace, while conducting the search and rescue missions.

He, however, wondered why he would turn back to frustrate such collaborations considering the importance his administration attached to the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls.

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