The Presidency on Thursday called out a newspaper columnist, Akin Oshuntokun, over his false claim that a bomb blast had gone off in Maiduguri, Borno, on Aug. 21, killing about 88 people.
Oshuntokun, a public affairs commentator, made the claim when he appeared on Politics Today programme of Channels Television, on Aug. 21 but Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja, condemned the claim, saying no such incident was recorded.
Mr Femi Adesina, in a statement, said telling lies of that kind betrayed a mind taken over by ill wishes against his own country.
Adesina urged Osuntokun and others to realise that Nigeria was the only country they had and they could not swallow poison and expect it to kill the next person.
He said till the Sallah holidays ended, no bombing was recorded in any part of the country.
This, he said, was contrary to what used to happen before the advent of the present administration, when insurgents turned such festivals to orgies of killings in many parts of the country.
The presidential spokesman said the administration was making strides in securing the country, fighting corruption, and reviving the economy.
The statement read, “On Tuesday, August 21, 2018, Akin Osuntokun, a chieftain of the stillborn Coalition for Nigeria Movement, appeared on Politics Today programme of Channels Television, and made the false claim that a bomb explosion had gone off earlier in the day, killing about 88 people in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“Osuntokun, a newspaper columnist and public affairs commentator, has never hidden his antipathy towards the Muhammadu Buhari administration, but to go on national television and tell lies of the most heinous kind betrays a mind taken completely over by ill wishes against his own country.
“Sallah Day had passed quietly and peacefully, without even a firecracker going off, let alone a bomb explosion. That was contrary to what used to happen before the advent of the Buhari administration when such festivals were turned to orgies of killings in many parts of the country by insurgents.
“Apparently, enemies of peace and progress had expected a return to the infamous past, thus Oshuntokun appeared on television with his bag of lies.”
However, in a swift reaction, Osuntokun lambasted Adesina, accusing him of telling lies, insisting that there was a terrorist attack around the Sallah holiday.
Citing Reuters news agency and the BBC, Osuntokun noted that on August 20, 2018, Boko Haram killed scores of persons in Mailari, Borno State.
Osuntokun, however, conceded that the casualty figure of 80 which he spoke of on Channels Television was a mistake.
He, therefore, warned Adesina to stop telling lies but stick to the facts.
Osuntokun said, “I find it insulting that I would be referred to as an enemy of the country because I said there was a terrorist attack in Borno State, which was reported on the eve of the Sallah celebrations by Reuters and several other news agencies
“I admit that I mixed up the figure and this is because these attacks occur so frequently that it is hard to always remember the figures. But to say that there was no attack is nothing but a lie from the Presidency.”
Osuntokun, who is a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, said the real liars were Adesina and President Muhammadu Buhari who go about deceiving Nigerians on a daily basis.
Osuntokun further stated that Adesina was the real enemy of Nigerians having said on national television that it was better for Nigerians to give up their ancestral land for cattle farming than be killed by herdsmen.
“It is regrettable that Adesina, using the instrumentality of the Presidency, can call me the enemy of the country. I wonder whether he is not an enemy of Nigerians by threatening them to give up their land to herdsmen or risk being killed,” Osuntokun asked.