The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the media report that he blamed the regime of Gen. Murtala Mohammed for a spate of insecurity in Nigeria is “fake news and disinformation’’.
The minister said this on Tuesday in Lagos during a meeting with Online Publishers.
Mohammed, who expressed dismay over the reports clarified what he said when he recently featured on Channels Television’s News programme.
“It is amazing at times how people interpret ones’ opinions and views in a very negative sense.
“He said that at the end of the retreat, there was consensus that all children born after the civil war must be given free and compulsory primary education.
“I simply elaborated on this information and said that if subsequent governments after Gen. Gowon had perfected this pledge, the bandits and kidnappers today will have no market to recruit their followers.
“I said we have about 13 million out-of-school children and if the successive government had taken the decision at the Gowon’s retreat seriously, we will not be where we are today.
“There was nowhere I blamed Gen. Murtala Mohammed, but we are in the era of disinformation and fake news,’’ he explained.
The minister said he was also misunderstood in his position that kidnapping and banditry were not offenses that could be prosecuted by the Federal Government.
He said while his position was correct, it was not meant to absorb the federal government from the responsibility of fighting crimes as it was misinterpreted by some people.
“I was responding to the opposition PDP which said that the Federal Government has not prosecuted any bandits or kidnappers.
“I said it is not the responsibility of the federal government to prosecute bandits or kidnappers.
“The responsibility of the federal government is to hunt them down, arrest them, and hand them over to the state’s judiciary to prosecute.
“Incidentally, this morning, it was reported that 48 kidnappers were neutralized by the military in Zamfara State.
“Those who were arrested will be handed over to the Zamfara state government for prosecution,’’ he said.
The minister reiterated that there were some laws that were at the exclusive execution by the federal and state level respectively.
“As of today and until we amend the law, the federal government cannot prosecute suspected kidnappers and bandits.
“That was why the notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudubem Onwuamadike, also known as Evans is being prosecuted in the Lagos state court and not in Abuja,’’ he said.
The minister said Nigerians must be concerned about the spate and effects of fake news and disinformation.