Former President Goodluck Jonathan has refuted reports that his administration refused help from the British government to rescue the abducted Chibok girls.
The Guardian UK reported that the Jonathan-led administration rejected the offer of British armed forces to help in rescuing the girls, who were abducted in April 2014.
In a statement issued by Ikechukwu Eze, a media adviser to the Jonathan, the former president said the ‘lies’ in the report were self evident.
“Our attention has been drawn to a report that has been trending, without proper attribution, to the effect that the last administration rebuffed British offer to rescue the kidnapped Chibok school girls,” he said.
“We wish to promptly point out that nothing can be further from the truth, as Nigerians are conversant with the effort made by the Jonathan administration towards rescuing the Chibok girls, especially in relation to collaborating with the international community.
“We can confidently say that 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 further said there were meetings between local operatives and those from other countries including Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
“In fact, the Jonathan administration was so genuinely supportive that the foreign powers involved were granted permission to overfly our airspace, while conducting the search and rescue missions,” he said.
“We would wish to recall that this collaboration was made possible following letters personally written by former president Jonathan to Barack Obama, former president of the United States; Francois Hollande, president of France, David Cameron, former British prime minister, as well as personal contacts made to the Governments of Israel and China, seeking their assistance in the search for the abducted Chibok girls.”
Jonathan attributed the “concocted story” to people “who have been playing politics with the issue of the abducted girls”.
“We are not surprised that this kind of concocted story is coming out at this point in time, as it appears that some people who have obviously been playing politics with the issue of the Chibok girls will stop at nothing to further their interest,” he said.
During the 2015 campaigns, the then, opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, capitalized on the emotional issues surrounding the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in their campaigns for its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.
The girls were abducted in April 2014 from their school dormitory in a Chibok village in Borno by Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram. Their abduction led to an international outcry which contributed to the bad press former President Goodluck Jonathan received leading up to the elections in which he conceded defeat to his opponent, the now ailing President Buhari.
President Buhari promised to rescue the kidnapped girls, and made it one of its main campaign promises during the heated campaigns of 2015.
However, only 21 of the girls have been returned to their families, through the effort of the government, while over a 150 of them remain in captivity. One of the girls wandered out of captivity with a baby before the government rescue.
Though the government denies paying a ransom for the return of the girls, inside sources say money exchanged hands.