Contrary to the expectations of many Nigerians, the United Kingdom, UK, has finally come out to state that its not considering sending troops to Nigeria to rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamists group, Boko Haram, in Chibok, Borno state.
This piece of information was disclosed on Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, while speaking to newsmen on board HMS Iron Duke, a Royal Navy Warship on a working visit to Nigeria.
According to the ambassador, the British Government’s offer of assistance to Nigeria in the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls does not involve deploying troops in Nigeria to assume any combat roles.
“What we are doing is bringing in some form of expertise, particularly in training and advisory roles and not combat roles,” he said.
Pocock stated that combat roles specifically is Nigeria’s responsibility, adding that the Nigerian government should not expect the kind of presence the French has in Mali as the two scenarios are completely different.
“We are not bringing troops in any combat role. What the Prime Minister, David Cameron said six weeks ago in London is that we recognise the difficulties that Nigeria is facing with security at the moment. And that was in response to the invitation by President Jonathan for assistance. That is specifically Nigeria’s responsibility. We are not bringing troops to Nigeria. We are not doing what the French did in Mali; it’s a different scenario entirely,” he said.
It would be recalled that the schoolgirls were abducted inside the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, northeastern Nigeria on 14 April, 2014.
More than three months since their abduction, the Boko Haram insurgents have not released them, though there have been reports of some of the girls who had managed to escape from their captors.
The leader of the militants sect had stated few weeks after the terror attack that he would only release the girls in exchange for some of their members in Nigerian prisons.
However, the Nigerian federal government has come out to say its not ready to negotiate with the terrorists over the release of the schoolgirls, saying it would do everything within its power to ensure that the girls are rescued alive.
Meanwhile, on the HMS Iron Duke’s visit to Nigeria, Commanding Officer of the ship, Tom Tredary said it was inspired by the need for the Nigerian Navy and the British Navy to share information and experience in order to boost maritime insecurity within the Gulf of Guinea and especially within the West African coast.
“Maritime security is a problem that affects all nations. So it’s important that security is given the required attention in order to reduce illegal activities at sea. It requires concerted efforts by all navies to do that. We think that we can share experiences we have had in combating piracy in the Indian Ocean and Somalia. This will help the Nigeria Navy to refine the techniques that they already use to try and bring a great deal of law and order in the Gulf of Guinea. We think that there is a lot that we can learn from each other because Nigerian Navy has a better understanding of activities around these waters and we have a great understanding of activities patrolling the Gulf of Guinea, so we can share experiences,” he said.
HMS Iron Duke is Type 23 ‘Duke’ Class Frigate normally based in Portsmouth, UK. It is currently away on a six month operational deployment visiting a number of partner nations including Nigeria as well as ensuring security in the South Atlantic.
It was gathered that the crew of Iron Duke will hold a two‑day training for some officers of the Nigerian Navy, and in the process share knowledge and experience, all in a bid to aid development and promote security and stability in the waters off West Africa.