Jonathan Will Not Negotiate With Boko Haram – UK Minister
The UK Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds says President Goodluck Jonathan has made it clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of the abducted school girls for prisoners.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on the outcome of the meeting with President Jonathan, Mister Simmonds said the UK government has offered help to Nigeria in rescuing over two hundred girls abducted by Boko Haram, fighting terrorism and insurgency in the country.
“I did discuss this with the president and he made it very clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners”, he told reporters.
Mr Simmonds said part of the help package from the UK government involves a team of experts to be embedded inside the Nigerian military headquarters to analyze information coming in and support the Nigerian military.
He however said it is unlikely that there will be UK combat troops on ground in Nigeria.
He said the offer of the surveillance aircraft, which is yet to arrive in Nigeria, was at the request of President Jonathan.
“The sentinel aircraft has radar on it and it detects movement on the ground. The reason a sentinel is important is that it complements assets that our other international partners have’’, he said.
The UK minister said President Jonathan welcomed the package and thanked the UK for its engagement to help Nigeria government’s efforts to rescue the kidnapped girls.
According to him, the UK also proposed a short and medium strategy to effectively tackle the menace of insurgents in the northern part of the country.
He said the medium term strategy would involve boosting economy in the northern part of Nigeria and facilitating education to remove the root causes of insurgency.
He also announced that a small team of UK military was now embedded at the Nigeria military headquarters in Abuja.
He said the team was part of a joint international information analysis unit.
On the issue of negotiations with Boko Haram, Simmonds said: “I did discuss this with the president.
“He made it clear that there would be no negotiations with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted school girls for prisoners.
“The point was made clear to me that the President was keen to continue to facilitate ongoing dialogue to find a structure and architecture that would deliver a solution to the conflict and causes of conflict in northern Nigeria.’’
Simmonds also welcomed the reported arrest in Sudan of the suspected mastermind of the April 14 bomb attack at a bus station in Nyanya.
The UK minister said the arrest demonstrated that international cooperation was crucial in the fight against terrorism.
He did not provide any definite response on whether UK intelligence helped in the arrest of Aminu Ogwuche, the suspected mastermind of the Nyanya bomb blast.