By Jonah Nwokpoku
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock has reiterated that 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.
He stated this while speaking to newsmen, yesterday, on board HMS Iron Duke, a Royal Navy Warship on a working visit to Nigeria.
He said 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.
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.
Whilst deployed, crew of Iron Duke will 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.