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Abducted Chibok Schoolgirls: No Offer From Australia — FG

Abducted Chibok Schoolgirls: No Offer From Australia — FG
Chairman of the National Information Centre on the ongoing war against insurgents, Mr. Mike Omeri


The Federal Government has said it has not received any offer from Australian government to send its special forces to rescue the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents on April 14.

The Chairman of the National Information Centre on the ongoing war against insurgents, Mr. Mike Omeri, made this known during an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday.

“We have gone to relevant places and we did not see the offer from Australia. We have gone to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and there is nothing like that,” Omeri said.

“What I know is that there are a number of offers from other countries which the government is working on,” he added.

An Australian television website, abc.au.net, had reported on June 2 that the country’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News that Australia had offered to lend its support but that Nigeria had not responded.

Bishop reportedly said, “Australian troops, the SAS, are always on standby for contingencies. We have made an offer to the Nigerian government to provide whatever support they need to release the girls. We’ve made a specific offer to our United K ingdom and United States allies that we are ready to assist in whatever way we can.

“We have not had a response from the Nigerian government. They’ve thanked us for our willingness to be involved in trying to rescue the girls but we haven’t had any specific acceptance of the offers that we’ve made.”

The abduction of the girls had attracted international outrage and led to the birth of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

In the wake of the international outcry, Britain, France and the US had offered to help Nigeria with military intelligence.

Omeri had disclosed that service chiefs on Friday met with the leadership of the US Interdisciplinary team for Assistance to Nigeria to marshal out steps for rescuing the schoolgirls.

According to him, at the meeting with the US team were the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh ; Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah; THE Chief of Naval Staff , Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Adesola Amos.

Omeri said it was agreed at the meeting that henceforth, Nigeria would not be pressured to disclose operational information on efforts to locate the abducted Chibok girls.

He had said, “It was resolved that subsequent phases of the efforts will feature continuous engagement among the partners.

“There is the need for Nigerians particularly the media to recognise the fact that the process of rescue could be hard and time consuming particularly when both the partners have agreed the issue of force is not often the priority.

“Insurgency or terrorism wherever it rears its ugly head has always taken time an if you check the history of other countries like Sri Lanka, even America so, what we should be concerned about is whether efforts are ongoing or not and if we are doing our best and the Nigerian military will continue to do its best.”

He said Nigeria was willing to partner any country in the fight against terrorism, adding that all efforts were being made to ensure that the schoolgirls were rescued alive.

Meanwhile, Nigeria and Pakistan have resolved to enhance existing co-operation between them on defence and counter-terrorism strategies.

Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Mamnoon Husain reached the agreement during a bilateral talk held in Abuja on Tuesday.

The two countries are currently under the grip of terrorists. Husain’s visit to Nigeria was the first to be embarked upon by any Pakistani President.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the closed-door session, Husain said he also had what he described as high level exchanges with Jonathan on issues bordering on trade, energy, education, agriculture, oil and gas.

Specifically on defence and counter-terrorism, he said he agreed with Jonathan on the need to strengthen existing cooperation in that regard.

He added that he had extended an invitation to Jonathan to pay a state visit to Pakistan in order to further deepen bilateral relations between the two countries.

Having accepted the invitation, Husain said relevant ministries of the two countries had been tasked to finalise a date for the visit.

Jonathan on his part described Husain’s visit as significant because of the problem of terrorism facing both of them.

He noted that the visit came at a time the Federal Government was battling to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls .

He recalled that Pakistan had been helping Nigeria, especially in the area of training the country’s defence personnel.

The President said, “This is the first ever state visit by any Pakistani President and that is why we consider this visit extremely important.

“We have just had bilateral discussions in the course of which we examined issues of common interest.

“This is quite significant because just like Nigeria is suffering from terror attack, Pakistan is also experiencing terror attack.

“Only yesterday, we had a nasty incident and even today, there are still some issues, just like we are still battling to deal with how to get our young daughters out of the hands of terrorists.”

Jonathan recalled that the two countries had been relating well since independence.

He said Pakistan recently cooperated with Nigeria when it wanted to get into the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member.

Despite their cooperation, Jonathan regretted that trade relations between the two countries had been extremely low.

He said the target was to double the current figure of less than $100m in three years.

Jonathan said, “Both countries have high populations and the two countries also have huge resources and if they work hand-in-hand, they will improve the wealth of our people.

“Presently, the trade relations between Nigeria and Pakistan is extremely low, but of course we were committed to doubling it in the next three years.

“In the next five years or so, our target is that we should move from under $100m to at least $1bn. We are now out to encourage more robust trade relations.”

Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammed, had earlier read a press statement on the meeting between the two leaders.

He disclosed that Memoranda of Understanding were signed during the meeting.

The bilateral agreements and MoUs, according to him, included those on agricultural development, industrial cooperation, cultural exchanges and trade/chambers of commerce, narcotics, anti-terrorism/security, poverty reduction and human capacity development, among others.







Source - The Punch

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