The Federal Government has 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.
The advice was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by
the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,
following the former President’s reaction to the report by a British
newspaper that the British armed forces’ offer to attempt to rescue
the girls were rebuffed by then President Jonathan.
”While former President Jonathan reserves the right to defend his
Administration, he should not engage in finger-pointing by saying, in
a statement, that ‘some people who have obviously been playing
politics with the issue of the Chibok girls will stop at nothing to
further their interest’,” the Minister said.
A statement signed by Segun Adeyemi  SA to the Information Minister
says  if anyone ever played politics with the issue of Chibok girls,
it was the Administration under whose watch the girls were abducted.
”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
”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.
It will be recalled that Nigeria’s Immediate past President, Goodluck
Jonathan, has denied a report by British newspaper, the Observer, that
he rejected an offer by the the British military to rescue more than
270 school girls abducted by the Boko Haram.
According to the Observer’s report which was culled from its sister
publication, the Guardian, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in an
operation code named, Operation Turus, spotted the girls during air
reconnaissance over northern Nigeria weeks after they were kidnapped,
but the Jonathan administration turned down an offer to rescue them.
“The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission. We
offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined,” a
source involved in the operation told the Observer.
The source claimed that the girls were tracked by aircraft as they
gradually broken into smaller groups over the following months.
Details of meetings between British and Nigerian officials, obtained
through the Freedom of Information Act, also indicated that the
government rebuffed international offers to rescue the girls.
According to the newspaper, while the government accepted aid package
and assistance from Western countries, such as France, the U.S. and
the UK in locating the girls, it dismissed offers for actions to be
taken by these countries to rescue the girls.
“Nigeria’s intelligence and military services must solve the ultimate
problem,” Mr. Jonathan was quoted as saying in a meeting with the UK’s
then Africa minister, Mark Simmonds, on 15 May 2014.
A document with the details of a meeting on September 2014 in Abuja
between Nigeria’s national security adviser at the time, Sambo Dasuki,
and a former British Under Secretary of State shows that Operation
Turus had reached a point where rescue was being discussed.
But the Jonathan administration did not respond to offers for help on
the type of equipment that might be used or how weapon system should
be deployed, the newspaper said.
But in a statement released late on Sunday by Mr. Jonathan’s media
aide, Ikechukwu Eze, the former president dismissed the report as
completely false.
He said the international collaboration to rescue the abducted girls
involved neigbouring African countries such as Chad and Cameroon;
adding that his administration was so supportive of the efforts that
it allowed Western military to conduct reconnaissance flight over the
country’s airspace.
“We can confidently say 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,” the statement explained.
The statement wondered why Mr. Jonathan would rebuff an offer to
rescue the girls when he specifically wrote the leaders of some
foreign power to assist in the searching for the abducted girls.
“We would wish to recall that this collaboration was made possible
following letters personally written by former President Jonathan
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
Government of Israel and China, seeking their assistance in the search
for the abducted Chibok girls.”
Boko Haram militias kidnapped the girls from the Government Secondary
School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014. Some of them escaped in
the days after the abduction. Twenty-one of them were freed by the
sect after a deal with the government last October.
About 200 of the girls are still missing.