The convener of the #BringBackOurGirls group, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has lambasted the presidency over its claim that President Goodluck Jonathan was unaware the hugely popular #BringBackOurGirls hashtag had been modified for his re-election campaign.
Mr. Jonathan on Wednesday ordered the removal of the #BringBackGoodluck2015 printed by his supporters on large banners and posted around Abuja for days.
His directive came only after the posts had drawn widespread condemnation.
Mr. Jonathan called the posts “repugnant, according to a statement released by Reuben Abati, a presidential spokesperson.
Mr. Abati claimed the president was unaware of the hashtags for the days they circulated on social media, and even after they appeared on banners printed by his supporters.
PREMIUM TIMES has confirmed that claim to be likely untrue, as the mock hashtag may have indeed been generated by another presidential spokesperson, Doyin Okupe.
Mr. Okupe was one of the first persons to tweet the hashtag.
The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag was generated by a Nigerian lawyer, Ibrahim Abdullahi, after the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from their dormitory in Chibok, Borno in April.
The hashtag drew massive international attention to the fate of the girls.
Mrs. Ezekwesili, a former Education Minister, accused the presidential spokespersons of “deceit” and “incompetence”.
“The inhumanity of that hashtag was too much for one to bear and so steadfastly ignored it…But this DECEIT by@abati1990 cannot be ignored,” Mrs. Ezekwesili tweeted.
In a series of tweets, Mrs. Ezekwesili said the presidential aides are “liars and duplicitous beings”.
“LIARS and Duplicitous beings. @abati1990: President Jonathan orders removal of offensive Bring Back Jonathan Signs ,” she said.
She accused Mr. Abati of incompetence in his effort to dissociate the hashtag likely created by Mr. Jonathan’s Public Affairs Spokesperson, Doyin Okupe.
“Also incompetent, @abati1990 dissociating the Presidency from a hashtag that was GLEEFULLY CREATED by the President’s spokesman @doyinokupe,” she said.
Also speaking, the Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said while he appreciates Mr. Jonathan’s responsiveness to the outrage since the #BringBackGoodluck2015 banner was raised, the president should investigate and discipline whoever started it.
“The president should go a step further to investigate who generated that hashtag, it was highly irresponsible, he should order for a probe so that next time other people will not do same,” he said.
The Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Mumuni Tokunbo, said it was illegal for any group to have started such political campaign especially when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has not authorised political campaigns.
“The campaign for any election must commence legally upon the declarations of INEC, nobody is expected to jump the gun,” Mr. Tokunbo said.
He said Nigeria must be “practical and realistic” in its decisions to rescue the abducted girls.
He urged Nigerian government to utilize every option available including negotiating with the terrorists to secure the girls release.