Osinbajo under fire for denying severity of kidnappings in Nigeria

Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has come under pressure over his comment that the kidnapping stories in the country were not only exaggerated but also fuelled by politics.

Speaking to a gathering of Nigerians in New York last Sunday, Professor Osinbajo was quoted by the state-run News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as saying that “with respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in parts of the country, again, this is not entirely new. In fact, some of the kidnapping stories you read or listen to are simply not true anywhere, some are fuelled by politics.”

However, the Presidency  stated last night that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo never used the word ‘exaggerated’ when he spoke in New York on the security situation in the country.

Reacting, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, dared the vice president to shed his security guards and walk the streets of Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kebbi, Gombe, among others, while the Middle Belt Forum said it sympathized with him for feigning ignorance of the high level of kidnapping in the country.

Rising from its monthly meeting in Akure, Ondo State, the country home of its National Leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Afenifere described Professor Osinbajo as a disgrace to the Yoruba race for his “opportunistic and provocative utterances.”

The group lamented that the South-West is  still under siege and “overwhelmed by reports of traumatization of our people by herdsmen/kidnappers/militia all across the six states in the zone as well as Kwara and Kogi states.”

A communique issued after the meeting by its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, read:  “All the reports provided clear indications of failure of state as the security forces have largely been incapable or unwilling to safeguard the lives of our people against these criminals.

“We are not aware of any of them that had been arrested or is under trial at the moment, just as all the Federal Government has done so far is to make excuses for the Boko Haram and Miyetti Allah groups that have been accused of so many crimes against the people of Nigeria.

“It is against this backdrop that the meeting was scandalized by the opportunistic and provocative utterances of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in New York on Sunday, dismissing the danger we face in Yorubaland as well as other zones in Nigeria as being politically motivated, as if he is unaware that we are in a digital world, which explains why America and Britain have issued travel directives to their citizens not travel to more than two thirds (of 36 states) of Nigeria, the VP is without much thought for his integrity.

“The meeting frowned on these unfortunate comments by the Vice President who shames the Yoruba people with his very cheap politicking with the lives of Nigerians.

“Aside from the daily tales of horror across Yorubaland in the hands of these marauders, meeting would like Osinbajo to answer the following questions:

“Is the report of the kidnap of a District Head from President Buhari’s town from May 1 till date politically motivated ?

“Was the President speaking of another country when he handed kidnappers on rampage to God?

“Was the former Health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole, playing politics when it was announced that his son was kidnapped?

“What politics was afoot when the Ondo State Governor recently announced that his convoy was waylaid by kidnappers?

“If he cannot answer these questions, he should kneel before his God and ask for forgiveness for violating ‘Thou shall not lie’ commandment.

“We further admonish him not to allow whatever ambition and political interest he serves to push him to make such infuriating comments as the No 2 man in the country again.

“As a people we cannot continue to bear what is going on and we believe it is so with so many communities in Nigeria. We restate our earlier call on Mr President to separate the office of the President of Nigeria which he occupies from being also the grand patron of Miyetti Allah which we suspect makes it very difficult for security agents to go after members of this group whenever they commit or are accused of crimes.

“There must be immediate enforcement of law and order as an urgent measure to flush out these criminal elements from our society.

“There must be immediate steps taken to rework Nigeria to take it back to the practice of federalism so that every federating unit can have its police to secure its environment.

“In order to cut the production line of criminals and bandits, we must have the practice of federalism in many key spheres, especially the economy, so that all federating units must have the rights to tap whatever is under its soil so that new corridors of prosperity are created to eradicate the massive unemployment in the county, so we can cease to be the headquarters of poverty.”

Reacting to the Vice President’s comments, National Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, said: “Mr Vice President is highly respected by us but we beg to disagree on his postulations.

“Can the vice president shed his battalion of security guards and walk along any street in Kano, Lagos, Gombe or Port-Harcourt? Our elites often live in fantasy island, removed far from reality. It is the common man in the streets that will tell you what is happening in Nigeria.

“Yes, government is trying its best but the challenges are still there. The media reports are what they see, hear and feel. Our problem is that we play politics with everything. Life is toyed with here and that is why someone is extra-judicially killed by our police, and they will say only one person is killed as if one life means nothing.

“The truth is, there is insecurity in the land. Although the government is doing its best to curtail the menace, there is still room for improvement.”

In his reaction, National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr. Bitrus Bogu, said he sympathises with the Vice President, especially considering his position as a pastor.

He said: “I sympathise with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, because I expected him to have said the truth.

“It is unfortunate if somebody of his calibre, who is a pastor, would make that kind of statement because he wants the support of our Diaspora people.

“He knows very well that kidnapping is happening on a daily basis in Nigeria. Killings are taking place on a daily basis in Nigeria. The Boko Haram insurgents have not been rooted out. There are some roads in Borno State that you can’t travel through till now.

“You can’t travel between Maiduguri and Damboa or travel between Biu and Gwoza. Al these areas are still Boko Haram territories, and they are attacking villages. A few days ago, they launched an attack on one village in Chibok Local Government and beheaded somebody and placed his head on his stomach.

“These things are happening on a daily basis and it is so disappointing for the vice president to make such a statement. He should have told the truth and say they are working on it, not to say something blatantly untrue.”

Also reacting, the PAN-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF,  the umbrella group of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger-Delta, said Osinbajo was economical with the truth.

National Secretary of PANDEF, Dr Alfred Mulade, stated this while reacting to Osinbajo’s outburst against the media in New York on Sunday, adding that Nigerians are tired of denials and excuses by the current government.

Mulade said: “The Vice President is just being economical with the true situation on ground, as regards the spate of kidnappings and killings ravaging every part of the country.

“It also shows that the government is not in touch with reality on ground and can afford to explain away, with a wave of the hand, the devastating insecurity in this era.  It has never been so bad in the history of this country.

“The primary responsibility of any government is thè security and welfare of its citizens. Where it fails, as we have seen in this country, where human lives have been reduced to a  mere number, and far less than the value of a cow, it is quite unfortunate.

“Kidnappers are on the prowl in the country. There have been cases of full bus-loads of passengers  being kidnapped, Abuja-Kaduna Road is completely impassable.

“The South-South and entire South are not left out.  No  part of this country is safe, kidnapping is rife in very part of the country.

“Instead of denying the obvious, the Federal Government should live up to expectation, up its ante and tackle this  ugly incidences of insecurity head on.”

However, the Presidency  stated last night that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo never used the word ‘exaggerated’  when he spoke in New York on the security situation in the country.

Laolu Akande, Osinbajo’s spokesman, said in a statement that his principal was quoted out of context as he never said that kidnapping in Nigeria was exaggerated.

“Our attention has been drawn to misleading reports in a section of the media purportedly made by and attributed to Vice President Yemi on the security situation in Nigeria, in New York.

“For the purpose of clarity, and the records, it is pertinent to state that Osinbajo was entirely misquoted and his words taken out of context in the said media reports especially those that quoted him as saying that.  Kidnapping in Nigeria is exaggerated and not entirely new.” – Vanguard.

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