Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has stated that bandits collecting levies from communities in some Northern part of the country are like thugs widely known as ‘area boys’ in the South.
The Minister disclosed this during a press conference that was held in Abuja on Thursday, October 28, while reacting to an article by The Economist magazine titled, ‘Insurgency, secessionism and banditry threaten Nigeria.’
Lai Mohammed said: “Do you know how many places in this country where area boys collect taxes? And there is no terrorism or banditry there. I don’t want to mention names.
“In many of our cities, they carve out their own territory. So, it is not indicative of the bandits have taken over.
“No. I know many areas in Nigeria both in the South and the North where these kinds of things happen. So, it is not the same thing.”
He added that The Economist Intelligence Unit, which is a sister organization of The Economist magazine, is not infallible.
Mohammed also said the London-based paper predicted Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in 2019.
He berated the Nigerian media for exaggerating things published or reported by foreign media houses.
“The Nigerian media does itself a great disservice by turning itself into an echo chamber of the foreign media. When The Economist reported its patently-wrong and badly-researched story, it was immediately amplified by the local media, without even interrogating its content? This is totally unconscionable!
“In any case, why would the Nigerian media become an echo chamber for a foreign newspaper that denigrates the Nigerian military and makes light of the sacrifices of our valiant troops? Would the British or American press regurgitate a report in the Nigerian press denigrating their militaries?”
The Minister added that contrary to the article by The Economist, Boko Haram had been degraded.
“Again, at a time that Boko Haram and ISWAP are taking on each other in mutually-destructive lockstep, and at a time that the terrorists are surrendering in droves as a result of heavy pounding by the military, it is wrong to say that Jihadists are carving out a Caliphate in the North-East, as The Economist reported.” he said.