Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, has questioned the integrity of Oby Ezekwesili, co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Movement (BBOG), as a social crusader and rights activist.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Shehu wondered why Ezekwesilii was “timidly silent” over the “lawlessness” of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) but found the voice to condemn the activities of the army in Abia state.

He was speaking in reaction to Ezekwesili’s warning to President Muhammadu Buhari not to alienate the entire Igbo race through the ongoing Operation Python Dance II in the region.

He told the former minister that she has a moral and patriotic duty not to back any group that seems determined to pursue its separatist agitation through “reckless and destructive methods”.

He said: “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?”

Shehu wondered why Ezekwesili “retreated to the background or lost her voice while IPOB supporters were violently molesting, attacking and jeopardising the lives of indigenes and non-indigenes.

“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.

“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.”

He added that it is “ridiculous” to accuse the president of sending soldiers to the south-east because he hates the Igbo, saying the Buhari-led administration “respects all citizens and will ensure that they are safe and secure wherever they reside”.

While condemning reported “indefensible and reckless” attack on soldiers and policemen by IPOB members, Shehu urged Ezekwesili not to “elevate mobs to the status of rock stars for the sake of playing to the gallery”.

He said: “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.”

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