The BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group has expressed shock at the use of its brand name at a fundraising by Hadiza Buhari-Bello, President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter.
At the event, which was held on Monday, the Peace Corps of Nigeria donated N3.5m to Africa Support and Empowerment Initiative, a non-governmental organisation owned by Buhari-Bello as part of an endowment fund for the Chibok girls.
“Bringbackourgirls” was inscribed boldly on the backdrop of the event.
But the advocacy group led by Oby Ezekwesili has disassociated itself from the event, promising to issue a response through its lawyer, Femi Falana.
In a statement signed by Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, the group said the organisers of the event were trying to smear its hard-earned name.
The BBOG group emphasised that it was a self-funded movement, and not a money-making NGO.
“Following repeated enquiries from the media, we stumbled upon information of an event tagged ‘Official Inauguration and Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Chibok Girls Endowment Project’ organised by the ‘Peace Corps of Nigeria’ and ‘Africa Support and Empowerment Initiative,’ with Hadiza Buhari-Bello,” the statement read.
“We are shocked, perplexed and completely dumbfounded to see the bold inscription of our hard-earned name, #BringBackOurGirls, on the event’s backdrop. We state categorically that we are not party to the said event and have absolutely no information of its origin. We urge the general public to disregard attempts at linking our movement to this highly suspicious event.
“After 902 days of painstaking advocacy, it is disheartening and unfortunate to suddenly see attempts, by external actors, to use it for selfish purposes. We have carefully built our reputation as a well-organised and disciplined global movement that is completely self-funded.
“The deliberate decision, to remain funded by sacrificial contributions of members for our very negligible needs, is the reason we are solely a Citizens’ Movement, and not an NGO. It will be highly injurious to allow it be dragged in the mud at this point. We therefore demand an immediate retraction and unreserved apology from the organisers.
“Together with our lawyers, Femi Falana & Co., we are considering a response to this attempt to smear our movement. We call on the general public and law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for unscrupulous persons who may already be/are planning similar nefarious acts to deceive the local and international community.”
Speaking with TheCable, Onwuka Don Uche, national secretary of the NGO, said he tried to reach members of the BBOG group but failed at every turn.
“I tried to contact members of the group, but I couldn’t reach any of them,” he said.
“I dropped a message for Oby Ezekwesili on Twitter, but there was no response. We will reach out to group. It is purely a fund for the Chibok girls, and we want to make BBOG a signatory to the account.”