The British High Commission in Abuja has debunked a report that former President Goodluck Jonathan rejected the offer by the British army to help rescue Chibok girls when they were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014.
A London-based Observer newspaper had reported at the weekend that President Goodluck Jonathan’s lead administration had rejected the offer by the British Royal Armed Force (RAF) to help rescue over 200 Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped in 2014 by the insurgent group.
Speaking to THISDAY’s sister broadcast station, Arise News Network on Tuesday, the British High Commission said the allegation that the RAF was over the area for a number of months and actually located the girls within weeks, but the Nigerian government under former President Jonathan turned down its offer to rescue the girls, “was false”.
Also reinforcing this, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Security Council and head of the delegation to the Lake Chad region, Ambassador Mathew Rycroft, dismissed the allegation when the question was put forward to him during a press briefing on Monday.
“The British High Commissioner briefed me on that today (Monday) and said that the allegations are not true,” Rycroft said.
When pressed for further clarifications by Arise TV, he directed all enquiries to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria.
However, the British High Commission, in its statement, said a more cordial, collaborative and unified approach between Nigeria and her allies than the reported differences was used.
“UK worked with the US and France to provide a range of military and intelligence support to the Nigerian government in their search (for the Chibok girls), and in fact, a wider effort to address the longer term challenge of terrorism.
“But importantly, we won’t comment on specific additional details, which is a matter for the Nigerian government and the military.”
Speaking further on the overall objective of the visit, Rycroft said the Boko Haram crisis was “one of the most neglected crisis and they would want to shine a spotlight on that crisis.
The envoy also urged the global community including the governments of the Lake Chad region to step up and respond to the crisis before it is too late.
Former President, Goodluck Jonathan, had in a statement denied reports that he turned down the offer of the British armed forces to help rescue the missing Chibok school girls.
According to him, he gave the international community free latitude to conduct their operation.
“We wish to promptly point out that nothing can be farther from the truth, as Nigerians are conversant with the effort made by the former President Jonathan’s administration, towards rescuing the Chibok girls, especially in relation to collaborating with the international community, in the bid”.
He added that the lies in the report are self-evident because the international press and the Nigerian media actively covered the multinational efforts and collaboration made by the Nigerian government and international community.
On the night of April 14, 2014, Boko Haram insurgent group kidnapped 276 female secondary school students from Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria.
Their abduction triggered widespread protests globally, popularising a “Bring Back Our Girls” slogan. Some of the Chibok girls escaped while others were released but currently, there are still 219 girls in the custody of the insurgents