- The minister of information, Lai Mohammed, said it costs the government N3.5 million per month to feed El-Zakzaky
- The minister made the claim in a viral video but had reportedly told journalists he was speaking off the record
- The video, however, made it to the public and has attracted wide reactions on social media
- El-Zakzaky, leader of the Shiite group, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), has been detained since December 2015
Nigeria’s Information minister, Lai Mohammed, has claimed that the government spends about N3.5 million monthly to feed the Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been detained by the government for over two years.
El-Zakzaky, leader of the Shiite group, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), has been detained since December 2015 after soldiers clamped down on his supporters, allegedly killing at least 347 of them.
The Nigerian Army accused them of blocking a public road being used then by the Army chief, Tukur Buratai.
The massacre has been condemned by local and international rights groups and is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Premium Times reports.
The government also ignored a court ruling that ordered that he be released and paid compensation alongside his detained wife, Zinat.
El-Zakzaky was initially held for about two years alongside his wife, Zinat, without trial. He was later charged before a Kaduna court for alleged conspiracy and abating culpable homicide.
The information minister’s statement on the Shiite leader is believed to have been made on Wednesday, November 7, the same day the Kaduna court denied El-Zakzaky bail.
A video of the minister making the claim while addressing some journalists has gone viral.
Mohammed did make the claim, as seen in the video, but he had reportedly told journalists he was speaking off the record, Premium Times notes.
However, the video still made its way to the public and has since gone viral, drawing wide criticisms of the minister on several social media platforms.
“The issue of whether, where he (Mr El-Zakzaky) is, at least let’s keep it off record, that he is in a residence and you know eating at the…
“It costs the government about N3.5 million every month to feed him,” Mohammed said in the video.
The information minister was at that point interjected by someone sitting beside him, alleged to be the transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who jokingly mocked the figures saying “then you people need to take me in o.”
Mohammed, then defended the figure he announced, saying “Honestly, don’t quote me, but these are the facts.”
At this point, Amaechi joked further that he “can take N500,000” monthly to be held in prison by the government."
Mohammed then explained that he “asked” from relevant people to arrive at his information.
“So please. We don’t want to inflame passion. The issue is a very sensitive matter. But that is the situation. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria are a different kettle of fish,” he said.
At N3.5 million monthly, it would mean the government claims it spends about N115,000 daily to feed the forced prisoner.
The video has gone viral on social media attraction heated reactions from Nigerians. See some of the reactions below.
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Meanwhile, the information and culture minister had said Nigeria’s campaign against fake news had received a boost from the Facebook which plans to partner with the federal government to check the menace.
A statement made available to Legit.ng said that Mohammed announced the planned cooperation in Abuja on Tuesday, October 9, when he visited Daar Communications, owners of AIT and Raypower, in furtherance of the campaign.
The minister said the national campaign, which was launched on July 11, 2018, has succeeded in bringing the phenomenon to the front burner of national discourse.
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