The Borno State Government yesterday berated the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, for his comment on the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
Okupe on Tuesday, had while appearing on a BBC programme – Hard Talk – claimed that only God, Borno Governor; Alhaji Kashim Shettima, the state Commissioner for Education and the principal of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, know the truth behind the girls’ abduction on the night of April 14.
However, the state government said Okupe’s remarks were designed to manipulate the report of the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the incident.
A government source, who sought anonymity to speak on the matter, faulted the presidential aide for peddling half-truths.
The source said: “Now that Borno’s support for the military is of public knowledge, the grand master of twists, Okupe, on Tuesday, came with yet another theory that died on arrival. All these theories won’t sell.
“Rather than waste energy on falsehood, let’s channel combined efforts towards the rescue or release of these priceless girls.
“Okupe needs to grow up; many of those who are younger than him in age and junior to him in many respects seem to be outgrowing him in management of public utterances. He should grow up.
“For us in Borno, we regard the police, the military, the Federal Ministry of Education and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) as part of us. This is why we didn’t want to speak until we were pushed to the wall after all these conspiracy thoughts were brought forward. We should all face the real issues, which are about rescuing the schoolgirls and ending the insurgency, and quickly too.
“We should mobilise Nigerians against our common enemy, which is the Boko Haram, instead of making so much effort to turn Borno, the major victim of the insurgency, into the major accused.
“Okupe should know that majority of Nigerians don’t quite trust him; no one believes whatever he says. He should, therefore, help the Presidency and not mislead the highest level of authority in Nigeria”.
The source said Okupe’s remarks were geared towards achieving a pre-meditated objective in the ongoing investigation into the circumstances behind the over 200 schoolgirls’ abduction.
The source added: “One must suspect and indeed question Okupe’s rather calculated remarks at a time the fact-finding committee on Chibok abduction, set up by the Presidency Okupe works for, is rounding off its assignment after speaking with virtually all relevant stakeholders with the highest point being the visits and interactive sessions with officials of Borno State Government in Maiduguri as well as parents, school authorities and students of the affected school.
“One would expect that the committee is writing its report by now and, given the facts already in public domain, it is clear that the likes of Okupe are jittery that the findings are unlikely to be what they had wickedly presumed, hence he says of things that will manipulate and mislead members of the Presidential Committee.
“Okupe knows very well that on the night the President met with the governor, the Commissioner of Education and the principal, the Commissioner of Police and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Chibok were also there in connection with fact-finding by the President.
“So, why did Okupe deliberately keep out the police in his innuendos? He was being clever by half. He kept out the police because he must have seen the letter written by the Borno State Government to the police prior to the attack.
“He also knows what the police DPO told the President the night they met. Okupe also knows that exonerating the police is keeping out the Presidency out of his innuendos. For God’s sake, the President set up a high-powered fact-finding committee; the committee must have, by now, found the facts. Why wouldn’t the Presidency trust its own committee and allow it to present its findings?
“Why is Okupe saying all these things to create yet another confusion, just when the committee is rounding off and, very likely, writing its report? Could it be that Okupe has got the impression from the facts already in public domain that the conspiracy theories have refused to fly?
“Perhaps, he has all the feelers that the facts on ground do not favour the desperate plot to pronounce a major victim guilty, as speculated? This is because the very first term of reference issued by the Presidency, which says the committee should find out why the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok was opened when others were closed in the state, has already been contradicted by the same WAEC’s letter that the Okupe relied upon, albeit blindly.
“The letter shows that not only the school in Chibok was opened but indeed Chibok was just one of the six examination centres in parts of the state, including areas not far from Chibok that were opened to students.
“So, it is to be expected that someone like Dr Doyin Okupe probably regrets the establishment of that committee and hence the last minute desperation.
“Not only Okupe seemed involved in the last minute attempt. The Minister of Information was also all over the media saying all kinds of falsehoods all in a combined effort to manipulate the fact-finding report”.
The source said noted that the Borno Government had survived many conspiracy theories from some Presidency officials in the last few weeks of the abduction of the 223 girls.