Abducted schoolgirls: China, France, Britain join US in rescue

Nigeria-Kidnapped-GirlsBy Aminu Imam with agency reports

The Chinese, French and British governments have separately offered to join in the search and rescue of the missing girls, just a day after President Goodluck Jonathan accepted the offer by the United States to assist in the search and rescue mission.

The Chinese government yesterday said it would assist Nigeria in the fight against terror and especially in efforts to rescue the abducted school girls in Chibok, Borno state.

President Goodluck Jonathan made the disclosure at a joint press conference he addressed with the Premier of China, Li Keqiang, at the State House, Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Keqiang arrived in Abuja on Tuesday, on an official visit and to attend the World Economic Forum on Africa, being hosted by the Nigerian government.

NAN reports that Jonathan and Keqiang, as well as top government officials from both countries had a closed door bilateral meeting at the Presidential Villa, during which several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding were signed.

Addressing journalists after the bilateral meeting, President Jonathan said they examined issues of common interest to both countries.

He added that “we agreed to deepen cooperation in the field of defence and security and strengthen cooperation in counter terrorism, anti-piracy and combating organised crimes.

“The Premier expressed firm support to efforts at safeguarding our sovereignty and secure our territorial integrity, as well as promoting economic development.

“The Premier also promised that China will assist Nigeria in the fight against terror, especially our commitment and efforts to rescue the girls that were taken away from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state.’’

Jonathan said that the meeting reviewed in particular, economic, trade, political and cultural relations.

On his part, the Chinese Premier said they agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, financial services, trade and investment, agriculture, air services, aerospace and people to people exchange.

The Premier, who spoke through an interpreter, said China also wanted to work with Nigeria to ensure quality and safety of mutual exchange and export.

He disclosed that “Nigeria is one of China’s trading partners in Africa and in 2013, trade between both countries reached about 30.6 billion dollars (about N4.9 trillion). I wish to emphasise that we know that the government and people of Nigeria pay high attention to coastal rail project in Nigeria.

Offer from France


The government of France also yesterday offered Nigeria a “special team” to look for the abducted girls.

“A special team with all our resources in the region is at the disposal of Nigeria to help in the search and recovery of these young girls,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament.

France already has troops on the ground in Mali not far away, where they continue to engage in intelligence gathering to further weaken armed Islamists in the north after driving them out of towns they had occupied for months.

“The president gave the defence minister and myself the order… to put our (intelligence) services at the disposal of Nigeria and neighbouring countries,” Fabius said.


Britain to deploy

tracking technology


Also, the British Government said yesterday, it would deploy its advanced tracking technologies in support of Nigeria’s security agencies currently engaged in the search and rescue operation of abducted school girls.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, made this known when he briefed newsmen in Abuja.

Abati spoke on the efforts by the government to locate and rescue the girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state.

He said that upon request by President Goodluck Jonathan, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave the commitment to deploy his country’s intelligence gathering resources in support of the search and rescue operations.

He said Jonathan spoke with the British Prime Minister on phone after meeting with Premier Li Keqiang of China who is on an official visit to Nigeria.

Abati said the president thanked the British government for its concern over the fate of the abducted girls and the willingness to provide assistance to save them from the terrorists.

“President Jonathan told the prime minister that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will liaise with the British government through its High Commission in Nigeria to work out practical details of the promised support and collaboration against terrorism,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police yesterday announced a N50 million reward for information that could lead to the rescue of over 250 schoolgirls abducted by a terrorist group in Chibok, Borno State on April 14.

A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mbah, said the cash reward will be awarded to anyone who volunteers credible information that will lead to the rescue of the schoolgirls.

The police listed the following numbers for citizens with useful information about the girls or their abductors to call: 09-2914649, 08081777309, 08055547536, 08032125050, 08034617591, and 08035969731.

Mr. Mbah also called on the general public to be part of the solution to the present security challenge; reassuring citizens that any information given would be treated anonymously and with utmost confidentiality.

In a related development, a man whose daughter was kidnapped by gunmen in Chibok said families in the Nigerian village are haunted by what could be happening to the missing girls.

A reverend, who was in contact with the father, told ITV News International Affairs Editor, Rageh Omaar, that families are sleeping in “the bush or on the mountain hills” in fear that the militants will return.

On April 14, over 250 girls were abducted from their dormitory in Government Secondary School, Chibok. While about 50 of the girls have managed to escape, controversies have trailed the actual number of girls kidnapped.

Women across Nigeria have resorted to protests to demand the safe rescue of the school girls. One of the protests, which started on April 30, has continued everyday in Abuja. The women said their protest is a call for the Nigerian government to do more in their efforts to rescue the girls’.

Also, a Chibok women leader in Abuja, Naomi Mutah, was detained for over 12 hours by the Nigeria Police on Monday. The police have, however, said that Ms. Mutah was only invited for an interview to help the police gather information to increase efforts towards rescuing the girls.



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