She said the award was merely a commemorative plaque presented to the president.
The president had been presented with the award by Dr Naomi Barbara King, MLK's sister-in-law, on Monday, March 26, 2018, and had kicked up a public storm as Nigerians questioned the legitimacy of the award.
The suspicion was confirmed when the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change commented on Wednesday, March 28, that it has nothing to do with the award.
It posted on its official Twitter account, "The award given to President Buhari of Nigeria was not given by The King Center, at the request of The King Center or by the children of MLK and Coretta Scott King."
While addressing the reaction that has trailed The King Center's response, Dabiri-Erewa said the award was merely a commemorative plaque presented to the president and not on behalf of the MLK family as has been widely misconstrued.
In a statement signed by her spokesperson, Abdulrahman Balogun, on Thursday, March 29, she said, "The members, led by the matriarch of MLK, Naomi Barbara King, were in Nigeria as part of the activities initiated to celebrate a low-key Black History Month in Nigeria as part of deepening partnership between Africa and its Diaspora.
"As part of the activities, they visited President Muhammadu Buhari and gave him a commemorative plaque for his fight against corruption and what they termed from the 'Africana Diaspora' a term for Africans in Diaspora for which the oldest of them all Naomi Barbara King was selected to present on behalf of the family (NOT MLK CENTER) as a sign of appreciation to the Nigerian President.
"It must be categorically stated here that the trip was totally privately funded and not one kobo was spent by the Nigerian government as it was all a private initiative."
She attributed the controversy around the award to a statement that had been made by Isaac Newton Farris Jr, MLK's nephew and a board member of The King Center, who had counselled Nigerians against voting out President Buhari in next year's election.
"I will counsel Nigerians to say give this man the time he needs to do the job that he is doing. He is one of the most legitimate leaders that the continent has produced," he said.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, the Federal Government made a request for Farris to withdraw the political statement but he insisted that it was a personal opinion.
She said, "As a non political group, he was asked to refute the statement , which he refused to, insisting that was how he felt, and it was his personal opinion, not that of the family nor the centre, of which he is a board member and was the Chief Operating Officer for over five years.
"This may have led to some arguments among them, which they have said they will resolve when they get back to the US, which apparently led to the tweet being circulated."