Former President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly rejected an offer by the British armed forces to rescue the kidnapped Chibok school girls.
According to a report by Guardian UK, the Royal Air Force, on a mission named Operation Turus, conducted air recce over northern Nigeria for several months after the girls were taken in April 2014.
“The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission. We offered to rescue them, but the Nigerian government declined,” Guardian cited a source involved in Operation Turus to have told the Observer.
The source reportedly added that the girls were later dispersed into progressively smaller groups over the following months.
The report said the publication used Freedom of Information Act to obtain notes from meetings between British and Nigerian officials.
It said Nigeria welcomed international assistance in looking for the girls but viewed any action against the kidnapping as a national issue.
At a meeting on May 15, 2014, with UK’s former Africa minister Mark Simmonds, Jonathan was quoted as saying, “Nigeria’s intelligence and military services must solve the ultimate problem.”
A document summarising a meeting in Abuja in September 2014 between Nigeria’s national security adviser and James Duddridge MP, former under-secretary of state at the Foreign Office, shows Operation Turus had advanced to the point where rescue options were being discussed.
Notes from the October 2014 document also showed how General Chiswell offered to advise the Nigerian government on what equipment might make sense and how weapon systems might be best deployed in the rescue of the girls.
“We wouldn’t comment on specific operational details, which are a matter for the Nigerian government and military,” Nigeria’s Foreign Office responded.
The revelations contained in the report, if true, would buttress the criticism from many Nigerians at home and abroad that the Jonathan administration did not take decisive action when the girls’ kidnap was still fresh.
The federal government, under Jonathan, was accused of being slow to mount any response in the weeks after the girls were taken.