Both the British and United States (U.S.) governments knew where some of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram members from Chibok but felt powerless to launch a rescue mission, it has been reported.
More than 200 girls have remained missing since 2014 when they were kidnapped by the terrorist group from a boarding school in Chibok while preparing for end-of-year exams.
Although 57 of the 276 girls managed to escape, the rest have not been seen since May 2014, when they appeared in a video reciting verses of the Koran.
But a former British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Andrew Pocock, has said that a large group of the missing girls were spotted but the governments felt any rescue attempt was risky.
He told The Sunday Times: “A couple of months after the kidnapping, fly-bys and an American eye in the sky spotted a group of up to 80 girls in a particular spot in the Sambisa forest, around a very large tree, called locally the Tree of Life, along with evidence of vehicular movement and a large encampment.
“A land-based attack would have been seen coming miles away and the girls killed, an air-based rescue, such as flying in helicopters or Hercules, would have required large numbers and meant a significant risk to the rescuers and even more so to the girls.
“You might have rescued a few but many would have been killed. My personal fear was always about the girls not in that encampment — 80 were there, but 250 were taken, so the bulk were not there. What would have happened to them? You were damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”