Minister of Disinformation?

Last Sunday, the Nigerian government reaffirmed its stance to punish purveyors of fake news and hate speech. The messenger, naturally was the Minister of Information- Lai Mohammed.

“purveyors of fake news and hate speech should not expect to sleep easy”

Lai Mohammed

The Minister said this at a meeting with online publishers in Lagos. Mr Mohammed was more particular about fake news in the broadcast media and sought the support of the online publishers.

The statement above cited mixed reactions from netizens; with critics saying that government officials, including Mr Mohammed, are also guilty of spreading false information; but the Minister in 2017 said that he has never told a lie before.

That statement was a great premise for us at Dubawa to carry out independent checks on the Minister’s previous claims. Our findings show that the Minister of Information has been guilty of disinformation on a number of occasions.

On Electricity 

Lai Mohammed stated that electricity has significantly improved under this administration.

On Thursday, November 8, 2018, Mr Mohammed appeared on the network service of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; during one of her early morning programmes. While trying to emphasise the achievements of the Buhari Administration, he stated that electricity has significantly improved under this government.

He made the claim via the Twitter handle of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

“When we came in 2015, only 4000MW was generated, today 7000MW is being generated”

Lai Mohammed- Twitter

Meanwhile, on the day the claim was made, peak power generated was actually 4964.2MW; and the lowest power generated was 3437.1MW. This is according to the Nigeria Electricity System Operator (NESO). So that makes his claim FALSE. Read our full fact check here.

On Fraud

Olisa Metuh is guilty of fraud- N1.4 billion, according to Lai Mohammed. This took place on Friday, 30th March 2018.

Granted, Olisa Metuh is on trial for allegedly collecting money from Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser (NSA); the figure he was accused of was incorrect.

Information on the official website of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission negates the figure quoted. Mr Metuh is alleged to have received N400 million from Dasuki – from funds meant for arms procurement. The spokesperson for the EFCC also confirmed the amount as N400 million. This is way lower than the amount Lai Mohammed alleged that Mr Metuh was being tried for. Read our full fact check here.

On #DapchiGirls

#DapchiGirls were rescued without a ransom fee.

In February last year, Boko Haram kidnapped Dapchi school girls with about 105 of them released later. This release took place without a ransom fee; according to Mr Mohammed; he told journalists this, a month post the girls release.

However, the United Nations’ report titled “22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team” debunks the claim.

“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment”

UN Report Excerpt

Read full report here.

On El-Zakzaky incarceration

Lai Mohammed said that Ibrahim El-Zakzaky was not incarcerated.

He made this known when he appeared on Channels TV interview on June 16, 2017.

“How many Nigerians know that El Zakzaky is actually not in prison custody nor (sic) police custody nor DSS custody? El-Zakzaky is in a house with his family, this is the honest truth”

Mr Mohammed

El-Zakzaky’s lawyer- Femi Falana subsequently rebuffed the claim. Read report here.

On Buhari’s Health

Lai Mohammed said Muhammadu Buhari was not sick, despite seeking an extended medical vacation.

He told journalists that “I can say without any hesitation that Mr. President is well, is hale and hearty. No question about that.” Conversely, public officials like Jibrilla Bindow, asked Nigerians to pray for a sick Mr. Buhari. The former being a quondam governor of Adamawa state.

Also, upon his return to Nigeria, Mr Buhari himself punctured Mr Muhammed. He opened up that he underwent a lot of tests and even had a blood transfusion. The President said he never experienced such sickness since he was young. Read the full report here.

On World Leaders Endorsement

Lai Mohammed claimed Nigeria got the endorsement of the whole world.

In 2018, Nigeria won the right to host the 61st meeting of African ministers of tourism. Mr Mohammed told Journalists then that Nigeria got the endorsement of the whole world. 

“Nigeria got the endorsement of the whole world to host the 61st session of the CAF mission of the UNTWO”

Minister of Information

A check proved this wrong. Nigeria only got the endorsement of Africa’s ministers of tourism who were present at the 59th edition of the meeting in Addis Ababa. Read the full report here.

On Chibok Girls

On March 6, 2017, Mr Mohammed claimed that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan did nothing for 15 days to address the kidnap of Chibok girls.

“After the girls were kidnapped and the Jonathan administration did nothing for all of 15 days or make any determined efforts to rescue them” 

Lai Mohammed

Conversely, reports negate this claim; exactly three days after the kidnap, President Jonathan called an emergency security meeting at the Presidential villa. Read report here.

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