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The presidency has advised the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Group, Oby Ezekwesili, to watch her comments over ongoing military campaign against Biafra agitators.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Thursday said “a prominent influencer like Dr. Oby has a moral and patriotic duty not to give ammunition to any violent group that seems determined to pursue its separatist agitation through reckless and destructive methods.
“While it is convenient for the civil society activist to condemn the military and the government of President Buhari, Mrs Ezekwesili didn’t find it appropriate, even once, to criticise the dangerous and violent propaganda being propagated by the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Oby, as they call her, tweets on everything. Why was she silent on this one?”
He insisted that the attacks on soldiers and police officers by IPOB supporters “was most irresponsible, indefensible and reckless. Nobody in her position should elevate mobs to the status of rock stars for the sake of playing to the gallery.”
Garba Shehu reiterated that “there is a deliberate sinister agenda by IPOB to provoke the soldiers into killing innocent people in retaliation so that Nnamdi Kanu would use the pictures of the victims for international propaganda by accusing the government of ethnic cleansing against the Igbos with the sole purpose of gaining sympathy.”
“A president who has put the nation’s cash cows, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Petroleum in the hands of the Igbo; who has given four out of five states in the sub-region senior cabinet posts in his administration, including Foreign Affairs; and Industry, Trade and Investment, and is constructing the Second Niger bridge after years of deceit and false starts cannot be called a hater of the Igbo.”
The statement warned that the politicisation of the ongoing military exercise in the sub-region, itself in line with similar exercises in the five other geopolitical regions, was inimical to the military readiness of the armed forces and the much-desired improved civilian-military relations in the country.
Shehu wondered why the former Minister “retreated to the background or lost her voice while IPOB supporters were violently molesting, harassing, attacking and jeopardising the lives of indigenes and non-indigenes.”
He challenged Mrs. Ezekwesili to explain to Nigerians where the constitution of Nigeria, and international human rights law supports the killing and molestation of innocent people in the name of advocacy for self-determination.
“Her hypocritical and timid silence while Kanu’s IPOB supporters were engaged in lawlessness and recklessness in violation of his bail conditions is a burden on her credibility as a national crusader who should be courageous to condemn criminality. This art of using a raincoat while taking a bath is nothing short of self-deceit.
“If the Buhari administration could take tough action against the extremist religious groups in the northern parts of the country to preserve national security, it is ridiculous to accuse the President of sending soldiers to the Southeast because he hates the Igbos.
“The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari respects all citizens and will ensure that they are safe and secure wherever they reside,” he added.
Shehu advised her to rise above pettiness and sentiments, and to resist the temptation to play to the gallery, when the country’s national security is under threat, adding that “seeking to make political capital out of a chaotic situation is highly unbecoming of her and of the reputation she has worked hard to build over the years.”