Former Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili,said she has instituted libel action against media outlets and individuals peddling a viral statement attributed to her on the 2014 abduction of over 200 Chibok girls by insurgent group, Boko Haram in Borno State.
Ezekwesili was quoted in the viral statement as saying the#BringBackOurGirls campaign she championed as a pressure group to ginger government’s action for the rescue the abducted girls was a “project with Fulani to tarnish” the then President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for the benefit of the then opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the 2015 general elections in the country.
However, the former Minister asked Nigerians to ignore the viral statement, describing it as “malicious” in a statement issued on Monday by Mr Ozioma Ubabukoh, her spokesperson.
Ezekwesili emphatically stated that she could never make such a false statement about the campaign she led for the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls.
She said it was a “desperate attempt” to malign the BBOG campaign as well as her advocacy for the abducted ChibokGirls.
“Ezekwesili never said and can never make such egregiously false statement about the empathetic campaign she led for the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls.
“Ezekwesili has commenced legal actions for libel against media outlets and individuals who publish and disseminate this disgusting fake news that was fabricated by those who wickedly continue to deny the failure of the Federal Government in 2014 to swiftly respond and rescue Chibok girls,”the statement read in part.
She added that she will sue any other individual or media outlet that disseminates the “fake news” further, while Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media platforms have been notified about the fake quote.
The statement also read, “The dubious authors of the fake quote had, in their desperate efforts to mislead the public, deviously ascribed a false quote to Ezekwesili. Propagating falsehood, they fictionally quoted Ezekwesili as saying that the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign for the rescue of 219 abducted Chibok schoolgirls was a ‘project with Fulani to tarnish’ one administration for the benefit of another in the 2015 elections.
“The original author and other peddlers of the fake news have already been identified and reported to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media platforms, which are taking appropriate actions.”
It added, “ We urge members of the public to, please, ignore the patently false, fictional and fake news being peddled by those who have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the injustice done to the Chibok secondary schoolgirls, even seven years after the tragedy occurred.”
Ezekwesili has since April 2014 agitated for the cause of victims of abduction for the singular purpose of holding Nigerian governments accountable for their rescue.
Her advocacy for victims of terrorist abduction in Nigeria started with ChibokGirls in 2014. Over the last seven years, #BBOG and Ezekwesili have extended and amplified their voices by advocating the release of all subsequent kidnap victims like Leah Sharibu of Dapchi Secondary School.
Nigerians can recall how the #BringBackOurGirls and Ezekwesili advocated and helped secure the release of 16 Lassa women, including police women and men; three University of Maiduguri lecturers; and their teammates from NNPC Chad Basin oil drilling project in 2018.
BBOG advocated the rescue of Red Cross and UNICEF aid workers who were gruesomely killed by terrorists in 2018.
Recently, #BBOG and Ezekwesili have continued to pressure and hold the Federal Government accountable for the serial cases of abduction of schoolchildren between 2020 and 2021, which are reminiscent of the 2014 abduction of ChibokGirls.
Ezekwesili also used the opportunity to remind President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of their constitutional duty to immediately rescue the remaining schoolgirls in captivity and all other victims of abduction.