Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Saturday debunked a report attributed to him that terrorists were collecting taxes in the northern parts of the country just as “Area Boys’’ extorted commuters in the southern parts.
The minister said in a statement issued in Abuja by Mr Joe Mutah, his Chief Press Secretary, that the report was “a figment of the warped imagination of the author.’’
The statement said the report, attributed to the minister after he addressed a news briefing on the distorted report of the Economist Magazine on Nigeria, was twisted by the author who was not even at the event.
“It’s inconceivable how a reporter, who was not even at the event, extrapolated the comments of the minister to manufacture his or her conclusion on the minister’s remarks.
“For clarity, the minister never mentioned what was dishonestly attributed to him,’’ the statement said.
It said the reporter twisted the response of the minister to a question on a news report that some bandits imposed taxes on some communities in Sokoto State.
“The minister remarked that, assuming without conceding that the report is true, the claim that some bandits imposed taxes on some communities was not an indication that the communities were effectively under the control of the bandits.
“He only provided some examples, which the reporter twisted to fabricate a misleading caption for the story.
“I will refer you to the original recording of the minister at the event in order to put the report in the correct perspective,’’ Mutah added.
He stressed that the report was twisted and fell under the categorisation of fake news.