David Cameron, a former British prime minister, has alleged that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan did not give enough support to Britain during the abduction of 274 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state.
The abduction, which took place on April 14 2014, had sparked a global outrage following which the international community offered to assist Nigeria.
In For The Record, his memoir, Cameron, who was in office at the time of the incident, said British troops traced the location of some of the victims and offered to help but Jonathan refused.
“Iraq wasn’t the only place we would need our military to counter this extremist menace. Boko Haram in Nigeria was linked to al-Qaeda, and believed Western education and lifestyles were a sin (the meaning behind its name). It too wanted to institute a caliphate, and like ISIS it would use whatever barbaric means it thought necessary,” Cameron wrote in the book.
“In early 2014 a group of its fighters centered the government secondary school in the village of Chibok, seizing 276 teenage girls. They were taken to camps deep in the forest. The Christians among them were forced to convert to Islam. Many were sold as slaves, entering the same endless violent nightmare the Yazidi women suffered.
“As ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign spread across the world, we embedded a team of military and intelligence experts in Nigeria, and sent spy planes and Tornadoes with thermal imaging to search for the missing girls. And, amazingly, from the skies above a forest three times the size of Wales, we managed to locate some of them.
“But Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, seemed to be asleep at the wheel. When he eventually made a statement, it was to accuse the campaigners of politicising the tragedy. And absolutely crucially, when we offered to help rescue the girls we had located, he refused.”
However, Jonathan promptly rejected Cameron’s claim as untrue.
“He (Cameron) never called me on the phone to offer any help,” Jonathan said in a statement.
“On the contrary, I am the one that reached out to him.”
The former Nigeria president said Cameron’s allegations were far from truth. He said his government had requested help from the UK, US, Israel and France.
Jonathan, Nigeria’s president from, 2009 till 2015, said he could not have appealled for help to then reject the help he appealed for.
He said that history contradicts Cameron because the same Boko Haram linked terrorists abducted a British expatriate named Chris McManus, along with an Italian hostage Franco Lamolinara, in Sokoto on March 8, 2012 and he authorised a rescue effort by members of the British military Special Boat Service supported by officers and men of the Nigerian Army.
The former Nigeria president opined that Cameron failed to mention that he wrote him requesting his help on Chibok.
Jonathan questioned why Cameron suppressed that information, noting “that copies of that letter exist at the State Houses in Nigeria and London.”
In the book, Cameron also accused Jonathan of appointing security chiefs based on political considerations.
Jonathan, however, refuted the claims.
Jonathan said he fired the county’s service chiefs twice in five years, to show his intolerance to anything less than meaningful progress in the war on terror.
“I was completely blind to ethnic or political considerations in my appointments,” Jonathan said.
The former president said his government appointed people he never met based on their professional pedigree.
Jonathan accused Cameron of keeping grudges against him because he did not pass legislation supporting same sex marriage in Nigeria.
“I came under almost unbearable pressure from the Cameron,” Jonathan said. “I swore on the Bible to advance Nigeria’s interests, and not the interest of the United Kingdom or any foreign power.”
Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law on Monday, January 13, 2014.
He said Cameron thereafter reached him “through envoys, and made subtle and not so subtle threats against me and my government.”
On the issue of corruption, Jonathan said “Nigeria made her best ever improvement on the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, moving from 144 the previous year, to 136, an 8 point improvement. As a nation, we have not made such improvements on the CPI before or after 2014.”
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