Canada, China, France join global hunt for Chibok schoolgirls

The build-up of an international coalition ready to assist Nigeria in locating and rescuing the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists three weeks ago got a boost, yesterday, as France and China and Canada joined the United States and the United Kingdom in the search and rescue operation.

Both the US and the UK had earlier given their word to President Goodluck Jonathan to assist Nigeria.

The abduction of the girls had triggered series of protests across Nigeria and in some other countries, with protesters demanding that world leaders should take drastic actions to rescue the girls. The Twitter hash-tag,‘#BringBackOurGirls’, put together to push the rescue of the girls, is trending globally, with prominent world leaders lending their voice and support to the demand for their freedom.

France, yesterday, offered to send security service agents to Nigeria to help recover the abducted girls. Reuters quoted French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius as telling French lawmakers that “the President has instructed that we put the intelligence services at the disposal of Nigeria and neighbouring countries. This morning he asked us to contact the Nigerian President to tell him that a specialised unit with all the means we have in the region was at the disposal of Nigeria to help find and recover these young girls.”

He added: “In the face of such ignominy, France must react. This crime cannot be left unpunished,” Fabius said.

With more than 4,000 troops operating between Mali to the west and Central African Republic to the east, Paris has a major interest in preventing Nigeria’s security situation from deteriorating, having previously voiced concerns that Boko Haram could spread further north into the Sahel.

The Peoples’ Republic of China has also offered to assist in the effort to rescue the abducted girls. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati in a statement, yesterday, said Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang conveyed the assurance of China to President Jonathan yesterday. According to the statement, “in talks with President Jonathan earlier today, Premier Li Keqiang promised that his country will make any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services available to Nigeria’s security agencies.

“Mr. Keqiang assured the President that China will support Nigeria’s fight against terrorism in every possible way, including the training of military personnel for anti-insurgency operations”.

Canada on its part will supply surveillance equipment to help Nigeria find the girls.

According to Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in an e-mail, “Canada will provide surveillance equipment and the technical expertise to operate it.”

MacDonald was responding to an earlier report that the Jonathan government had asked Canada to provide surveillance equipment in the wake of the kidnap by the Boko Haram terrorists. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird had also said, “we’ve offered support to the Nigerian government. If Canada has surveillance equipment that is not in the region that could provide assistance to find these young girls, we’d obviously be pleased to provide it.”

Meanwhile, the US Pentagon is sending no fewer than 10 military troops to Nigeria as part of the U.S. effort to help find the kidnapped girls. A Pentagon spokesman said officials have no plans now to launch any military operations. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the troops will be arriving in a few days as part of the larger U.S. assistance team to include State Department and Justice Department personnel. The military members will help with communications, logistics and intelligence planning. – Vanguard.

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