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BREAKING: Goodluck Jonathan Rejected British Offer To Rescue Seized Chibok Schoolgirls – Guardian UK

British armed forces offered to attempt to rescue nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, but were rebuffed by Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria ’ s president at the time , the Observer has learned .
In a mission named Operation Turus , the RAF conducted air reconnaissance over northern Nigeria for several months , following the kidnapping of 276 girls from the town of Chibok in April 2014 . “ The girls were located in the first few weeks of the RAF mission ,” a source involved in Operation Turus told the Observer . “ We offered to rescue them , but the Nigerian government declined .”
The girls were then tracked by the aircraft as they were dispersed into progressively smaller groups over the following months , the source added .
Chibok is located in Nigeria ’s north – eastern Borno state . Today 195 of the girls are still missing . Those who have managed to escape from their kidnappers have told of a life of torture, enslavement , rape , and forced marriages in captivity.
Notes from meetings between UK and Nigerian officials, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act , also suggest that Nigeria shunned international offers to rescue the girls . While Nigeria welcomed an aid package and assistance from the US , the UK and France in looking for the girls , it viewed any action to be taken against kidnapping as a “ national issue ” .
“ Nigeria ’ s intelligence and military services must solve the ultimate problem , ” said Jonathan in a meeting with the UK ’s then Africa minister , Mark Simmonds , on 15 May 2014 .
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 . Minutes from a meeting the following month between Major -General James Chiswell and Jonathan hinted at the frustration felt by those trying to prompt some action from Nigeria .
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“[ President] Jonathan was still focused on ‘platforms ’. General Chiswell said again we could offer advice on what equipment might make sense and how weapon systems might be best deployed , ” the October 2014 document stated .
The Nigerian government did not respond to a request for comment. The Foreign Office said : “ We wouldn ’t comment on specific operational details , which are a matter for the Nigerian government and military .”
Jonathan has drawn criticism at home and abroad for a lack of action and perceived apathy over the kidnappings . The government was slow to mount any response in the weeks after the girls were taken . The governor of Borno, Kashim Shettima , also publicly criticised Jonathan for failing to even call him or any other state official for 19 days after the kidnappings . Jonathan also hit out at the worldwide # BringBackOurGirls campaign , branding it a “manipulation ” of the victims of the attack .
Boko Haram had raided the dormitories of the government secondary school at Chibok . The girls staying there had braved warnings of an attack to sit their final examinations . Boko Haram looted the school and then burned it to the ground. The kidnappings also blighted the lives of the girls from the town who were not taken away , as many have been too scared to continue their education.
In addition to Nigeria , Boko Haram is active in regions of Cameroon , Chad and Niger. According to Unicef , more than 1 .3 million children have now been displaced . Some of those taken by Boko Haram have been forced to become child soldiers: one in five suicide bombers in Nigeria are believed to be children , and three – quarters of those are girls .

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