How true is Reno Omokri’s claim that Osinbajo has been silent on critical issues?By Nurudeen Akewushola on April 25, 2022
RENO Omokri, a former aide to Ex-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, has accused Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of being silent on several critical issues that have rocked the country over the years.
He made the claim on the 16th of April, 2022, via his verified Facebook page, days after Osinbajo declared his intention to vie for the post of President in the nation’s 2023 general election.
To buttress his point, Reno cited eleven (11) critical incidents that happened in the country claiming that the vice president said nothing about them. He, thus, argued that Nigerians should not vote for him due to his usual silence on important matters that affected the citizens.
“Nigerians should never forget that Osinbajo said nothing about the December 2015 Zaria massacre of Shiites, about the Abuja murder of RCCG pastor, Eunice Elisha, about the Kano beheading of evangelist Bridget Agbahime, about the non-release of Leah Sharibu for not giving up her Christian faith, about the New Year’s Day Benue massacre of almost 100 people in 2018 by killer herdsmen, about the Lekki Massacre of #EndSARS protesters, about the #TwitterBan, about Buhari calling the Igbos “a dot in a circle”, about government’s supply of adulterated fuel that knocked thousands of cars, about the reopening of the Lekki Toll Gate, without justice being done, about the genocide in Southern Kaduna, or about the fate of the about 100 Nigerians still in the hands of terrorists after the Abuja-Kaduna train bombing. But now, Osinbajo wants Nigerians to say something about his ambition? “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”-Mark 8:36,” Reno said in the viral Facebook post.
Using available public records, The FactCheckHub verified some claims by Omokri from the post.
1. 2015 Massacre of Shiites in Zaria
Omokri claimed that Osinbajo said nothing about the December 2015 massacre of Shiites in Zaria.
In December 2015, the Nigerian military attacked Shia Muslims, mostly members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria, Kaduna state.
According to Amnesty International, the incident which lasted for three days claimed the lives of more than 350 people following a confrontation between IMN members and Nigerian soldiers.
On the 23rd of April, 2017, The Guardian newspaper referenced a video posted on the official Twitter handle of the Nigerian Presidency, where Osinbajo reportedly spoke on why the federal government had refused to comply with the court’s judgement that ordered the release of the IMN leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife from state custody.
VERDICT: Mostly FALSE.
2. Leah Sharibu in Captivity
Also, Omokri claimed that Osinbajo said nothing about the abducted Leah Sharibu.
Leah Sharibu and over 100 schoolgirls were abducted by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, in Dapchi, Yobe state on February 19, 2018.
Despite the release of 105 of them on March 21, 2018, the terrorists refused to release Leah till date.
On the 8th of February, 2019, Vanguard reported that Osinbajo, during an interview with Bond FM 92.9 in Lagos, said the government was working frantically to secure her release and other girls abducted.
“There was never a time that the government stopped working on the release of Leah Sharibu and other girls that were abducted by the sect.
“There are people who act as middlemen who know how to reach out to them. The govt will get Leah Sharibu and the others back from Boko Haram,” Vanguard quoted the vice president as saying.
Premium Times also reported that Osinbajo said the Buhari administration had not forgotten Leah Sharibu while meeting his American counterpart, Mike Pence, at the White House, Washington, D.C in June 2019.
3. 2018 Massacre of farmers in Benue state
Similarly, Omokri claimed that Osinbajo said nothing about the New Year’s Day massacre of almost 100 people by killer-herdsmen in Benue state in 2018.
On New Year’s Day in January 2018, in what came to be known as the ‘Benue Massacre,’ machete-wielding herders reportedly went on a killing spree in farming communities in Logo and Guma local government areas of Benue State.
Channels TV reported that Osinbajo had condemned serial killings in the state and other parts of the country during the interdenominational service held for the 2018-Armed Forces Remembrance Day on the 7th of January, 2018.
He also visited Benue state in May 2018 to assess the humanitarian crisis following the killings. During the visit, he was also quoted to have said that he’s ready to step down as a result of persistent violence in the state.
4. Lekki Massacre of #EndSARS protesters
Reno Omokri further claimed that Osinbajo did not say anything about the shooting of protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos during the #EndSARS protest.
A simple Google search on the internet led us to a tweet made by Vice President Osinbajo on the 21st of October, 2020, a day after the incident, where he condemned the shootings.
My heart goes out to all the victims of the Lekki shootings, and also the policemen and all other men and women who lost their lives in the past few days in different parts of Lagos & other states.
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) October 21, 2020
“My heart goes out to all the victims of the Lekki shootings, and also the policemen and all other men and women who lost their lives in the past few days in different parts of Lagos & other states.”
“I spoke to some of those in hospital. The pain of these terrible events is palpable in our towns and cities, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will get justice for all of them. I stand with Lagos & all other affected states in these trying times,” Osinbajo said in the tweet.
5. Southern Kaduna killings
The former Presidential aide also claimed that Osinbajo said nothing about the genocide in Southern Kaduna.
The southern part of Kaduna state is one of Nigeria’s most troubled areas as it has witnessed several cases of killings over the years.
It is important to note that although Omokri did not make any reference to a particular year, findings by The FactCheckHub show that there have been several comments made by Osinbajo over killings in parts of the country.
A Google search led us to a thread of tweets made by the vice president in August 2020 concerning the Southern Kaduna killings.
Osinbajo, in a series of tweets titled “On the lives lost in Southern Kaduna,” said that he had engaged the governor and other stakeholders in Kaduna state on how to solve the problem.
First, my heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone or has been a victim in Southern Kaduna. I am so sorry for everything you have experienced. pic.twitter.com/UHXwy1cIcx
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) August 27, 2020
“First, my heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone or has been a victim in Southern Kaduna. I am so sorry for everything you have experienced.
“Let me say that I have been involved in the resolution of issues in Southern Kaduna since 2001 through a Non-Governmental Organization and I think these issues have gone on far too long.
“First, we have improved security in Kaduna. We now have a military base, we have Airforce surveillance, the combined military team from the army and the navy to take care of the volatile situation there.
“The President has also held security meetings and I have attended all of them where the issues have been discussed. Possibilities of engagement have also been looked at.
“I have similarly engaged with community leaders in Southern Kaduna and I have also engaged with the Governor to look at what peacekeeping efforts are possible to deal with the perennial issues that have resulted in the disgraceful human conditions there.
“In addition, those responsible for the mayhem must be apprehended and prosecuted so impunity doesn’t reign,” Osinbajo said in the tweet thread.
6. Abuja-Kaduna train attack
Omokri claimed that Osinbajo said nothing about the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train.
On Monday, March 28, 2022, bandits bombed the Abuja-Kaduna rail tracks and attacked a passenger train.
The following day, Channels TV reported that Osinbajo cancelled his planned trip to Lagos State for the Tinubu colloquium to visit victims of the train attack in hospitals in Kaduna.
Osinbajo, in a tweet he posted on his verified Twitter handle, urged Nigerians not to allow the terrorists “break our spirits and our resolve.”
“I am saddened by another mindless terrorist attack on citizens. We must for our nation and their memories fight on and defeat the cowards who unleash terror on those not armed. They will not break our spirits and our resolve. We will prevail & our land will be secure,” he said.
I am saddened by another mindless terrorist attack on citizens.
We must for our nation and their memories fight on and defeat the cowards who unleash terror on those not armed. They will not break our spirits and our resolve. We will prevail & our land will be secure. pic.twitter.com/WpWghk7sOM
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) March 29, 2022
7. #TwitterBan in Nigeria
Lastly, Omokri claimed that Osinbajo said nothing about the #TwitterBan in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government, on the 4th of June 2021, suspended the operations of the micro-blogging platform, Twitter in the country indefinitely.
A day after the ban, most Twitter users condemned Osinbajo for keeping mute, saying as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Pastor, he is expected to speak out and advise the President not to take the decision.
The suspension by the Nigerian government comes days after a post by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 1967 civil war was deleted by the microblogging platform.
The ban, which lasted for 7 months, was lifted on the 13th of January, 2022, the Punch newspaper reported.
Although Osinbajo presided over a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on the 11th of August, 2021 where the lifting of the Twitter ban was discussed, the vice president didn’t address the press or say anything about it publicly after the meeting.
VERDICT: Mostly TRUE.
Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.