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Viral quote claiming Lai Mohammed threatening the US, UK and the EU is fake

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Claim: A quote that Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, warned the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union to stay out of the affairs of Nigeria has recently been circulating on the internet.

False: The quote is not real. Lai Mohammed has no public and confirmed record of saying that. 

Full Text

There has been this long-running internet quote that has Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, threatening the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union. 

The quote goes like this “We have sophisticated weapons to attack the US, UK, EU if they dare to interfere in our elections—Lai Mohammed.”

The quote first came ahead of the 2019 Elections in Nigeria when Lai Mohammed’s boss, President Muhammadu Buhari was running for re-election under the All Progressives Congress (APC). Social media users shared the quote to insinuate that the minister was not pleased with the alleged interference from the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union. 

The quote resurfaced just after the #EndSARS protest that broke out in several cities across the country and the world. This time, it was edited to suit the prevailing issue.

“We have sophisticated weapons to attack the US, UK, EU if they dare to interfere,” Mr Mohammed was quoted as saying in a message accompanied by his picture.

Again, mobile phone users, especially on WhatsApp are using it to suggest that Lai Mohammed was not pleased with the support the protests garnered from international bodies. 

Lai Mohammed was recently in the news for expressing his displeasure on how some events during the protest were reported on social media and by American news cable network, CNN

The minister has come under heavy criticism for his stance for the regulation of social media after he blamed social media for aggravating reports related to the #EndSARS protests.

“The violence that resulted from the hijack of the #EndSARS protest was catalysed by fake news and disinformation, which spread like wildfire on social media,” the minister said during a recent meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON). 

Also recently, The Minister while reacting to a report done by CNN on the Lekki Tollgate incident, accused the cable news platform of publishing a report that ‘falls short of journalistic standards’, and reinforces disinformation in Nigeria.

“While it is up to CNN to accede or not, please note that the Federal Government reserves the right to take any action within its laws to prevent CNN from aggravating the #EndSARS crisis with unprofessional, irresponsible, one-sided, inciting, and sensational reporting that is capable of pitching Nigerians against themselves and setting the country on fire,” Lai Mohammed said. 

So in line with these grievances, a graphic with a blown-up photo of Lai Mohammed and the quote has been widely shared on WhatsApp in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.

Verification:

On verification, Pulse did an internet search on this quote purportedly by Lai Mohammed and found no public and credible record of it. 

The top two results of the search are the only ones that have the quote but those are from the Facebook page of a certain GossipMillBiafra. The first result was from a November 2020 post on the same Facebook page while the second was from a January 2019 post of the same Facebook page.

As Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed’s statements and utterances are widely covered and reported, so a quote like this would have been easy to find on the internet. 

An extensive search of the quote purportedly from the minister returned nothing credible. 

Conclusion

A viral quote which has  Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, threatening the US, UK and the EU is false. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Pulse.ng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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