The Federal Government has described the reported formation of Biafra Customary Government by Asari Dokubo as a “theatre of the absurd by a joker seeking attention’’.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on the development in Lagos on Monday, the Minister of Information, and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s regime will not be distracted by the absurdity.
“I am sure you have heard of the theatre of the absurd, that is the best way I can describe it.
“If Asari Dokubo wants to form and run a fathom government, I think he is free to do so.
“This administration will not be distracted because we still have a lot to do.
“We are not ready to give any attention or time to a joker like Dokubo who is just looking for attention.
“We will just take it as one of these entertainment things.
“The beauty about Nigeria is that it is never a dull country, you must have one thing or the other to entertain you,’’ he said.
Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Salvation Force reportedly announced himself as the leader of the new Biafra Customary Government.
The fathom government was announced with names of some leaders by one Uche Mefor, who claimed to be its head of information and communications. (Text, excluding headline, courtesy The PUNCH)
The federal government on Thursday warned that it will not allow another EndSars protest in the country and Nigerians planning to protest at the Lekki Toll Gate this weekend should desist from it.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who gave the hint at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, said that allowing the protest could trigger another round of uncontrolled destruction of lives and property.
Mohammed said: “No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of EndSars protests last year.
“After all, only one policeman – (plus four others) – was killed in the invasion of the US Capitol in January, yet the FBI has continued to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators. No life is more important than the other.
“The Federal Government is also keenly watching the role being played by the various social media platforms in this renewed clamour for violence in the country.
“Recall that the social media platforms that eagerly nudged on the EndSars protesters, until the situation got out of hand, are the same ones that quickly pulled the plug on even their own President when the chips were down in their own country.
“I hope we have all learnt our lessons. If we allow them to destroy our country, we will bear the brunt,” the minister said.
The Federal Government has accused the United States (U.S.) of attempting to sow seed of religious mistrust among the various religious groups in Nigeria with its recent report.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Federal Government rejected the U.S. designation of Nigeria as “a country that engages in or tolerates severe violations of religious freedom”.
Mohammed said that the iniquitous tag stemmed from an orchestrated narrative that had long been discredited.
He stressed that the people of Nigeria enjoyed unfettered freedom to practise their religion.
The minister blamed failed politicians and disgruntled elements – some of them supposedly respected leaders, for latching on to religion as their trump card, especially in the run-up to the last general elections.
He said it was unfortunate that the U.S. fell for the antics of “the discontented and the unpatriotic few, who will not hesitate to hang Nigeria out to dry on the altar of their inordinate ambition and their sheer animosity towards the Buhari-led administration”.
He said the Nigerian government was aware of how the political opposition in particular, had spared no resources in deriving political capital from the various security challenges in the country.
“The deliberate effort to give religious colouration to the farmers-herders clashes and the Boko Haram insurgency, in particular, has undoubtedly helped to mislead the U.S. into concluding that the government is doing little or nothing to guarantee religious freedom in the country.
“But, as we have always said, the farmers-herders clashes have nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with environmental and socio-economic realities.
“The religious tag given to the clashes has no basis in fact, but it is very convenient for those who will very easily give the dog a bad name just to hang it.
“On its part, the Boko Haram terrorists are extreme fanatics who do not subscribe to the tenets of any religion, in spite of their pretence to Islamic adherence,” he said.
The minister said the good news was that the government had succeeded in curbing the farmers-herders clashes through the implementation of proactive and multi-dimensional strategy, yielding remarkable results.
He added the government had largely defeated the Boko Haram insurgency.
“On the El-Zakzaky issue, which was referred to in the report by the U.S. government, it is purely a criminal matter, which is being handled by a court of competent jurisdiction,” he said.
The Minister stressed that while the government welcomed constructive criticism from any quarter, it rejected any attempt to sow seed of mistrust among the various religious groups in the country.
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The immediate-past Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, will appear before a Federal High Court in Abuja over his role in the payment of N2.5bn by the National Broadcasting Commission for the Federal Government Digital Switch-Over programme.
According to a statement signed by the spokesperson for the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Rasheedat Okoduwa, the ICPC had filed 12 counts before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, against the Director General of NBC, Modibbo Kawu, the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Lucky Omoluwa, and the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Dipo Onifade.
He added that the NBC DG misled the former minister into approving government funds to a private company.
The ICPC is also prosecuting Kawu over alleged abuse of office and money laundering.
The commission said, “The former minister’s involvement had come under questioning following discovery by the ICPC during investigations, that a government White Paper that governs the execution of the DSO programme was allegedly flouted by the head of the NBC.
“Mohammed had however admitted in a statement to the commission that he was misled by Kawu, as opined in court by a witness from the ICPC, Osanato Olugbemi. Olugbemi, led in evidence by counsel for the ICPC, Henry Emore, also told the court that the payment of N2.5bn from the NBC to Pinnacle Communications Limited as seed grant was suspicious because only government-owned company was approved to benefit from the grant according to the White Paper.
“The court also heard that the processes that led to the final payment of the fund to the private company were shrouded in secrecy as revealed by the minutes of an NBC emergency board management meeting where issues of carriage fees owed Pinnacle and not seed grant was discussed.”
The statement said 47 suspicious transactions were originated by the chairman of Pinnacle Communications, Omoluwa, immediately after the receipt of the funds on June 2, 2017.
“The transactions include payments of N363m to one Idowu Olatunde, N274.4m to one James Segun and N127 m to Onifade. Onifade explained that he received the money as legal fee he rendered to the company.
“A Bureau de change operator, Salisu Daura, who also testified in court, said he received N167m in two installments of N97m and N70m. Daura added that the sums were converted into $265,000 and $195,735 at the rate of N360 to US dollar, and handed the cash to one Alhaji Sabo, supposedly on behalf of Pinnacle Communications,” the commission noted. (Punch)
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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, raised the alarm over alleged plan by some people to cause crisis in parts of the country and accuse him of being responsible for the skirmishes.
He said the plan, being spearheaded by “unscrupulous and anti-democratic elements,” for coming weeks, was aimed at smearing his personality.
Atiku made the allegation in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by his media adviser, Paul Ibe.
He said the strategy was for some people to be apprehended for causing skirmishes and be made to mention Atiku and some members of the PDP as their sponsors.
The former Vice President also called for the arrest of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for his unsubstantiated allegation against him.
The statement read, “We wish to blow the whistle as an early warning alert of the grandiose scheme being put together by some unscrupulous elements aimed at jeopardising the reputation of His Excellency Atiku Abubakar in the coming days and weeks.
“By the merit of what is beginning to unfold, there are plans to create some upset across the country whereby alleged perpetrators of such crimes will engage in phantom dropping of name of Atiku Abubakar and some senior personalities in the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Already, we are abreast of some other plans to plant fictitious stories in some mushroom media outlets aimed at discrediting Atiku and his political party, the PDP.
“It therefore becomes preponderant that we alert the public to this demonic plan and to say that it will be imprudent to compromise the peace and security of Nigerians in order to score a cheap political goal.
“Towards this end, and for the umpteenth time, we call on the Federal Government to be awake to its responsibilities of providing security and ensuring peace, and to desist from actions and utterances that are capable of exposing our fault lines.
“It is very unsettling that senior administration officials, especially those who are the mouthpiece of government will make reckless but calculated comments to tarnish the image of Atiku Abubakar and government will sit idly on it.
“With the conclusion reached by relevant security outfits that there is no proof to back the claim by Lai Mohammed that the opposition was planning to upstage the government, we demand that the information minister should be arrested for a breach of security and an apology tendered to Atiku Abubakar and the PDP.”
In its reaction, the Federal Government said the former Vice-President should have nothing to fear.
It said only the guilty were always afraid.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the matter, said he would not say more than that.
“On Atiku’s statement, I guess the former Vice-President must have been reading, in recent times, James Hadley Chase’s 1957 thriller entitled. ‘The Guilty are Afraid.’ That’s all I have to say.”
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Minister Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has assured the international community that President Muhammadu Buhari’s new administration will be more determined in the fight against corruption.
Mr Mohammed, who gave the assurance in Washington D.C., in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), said the president will not compromise his anti-corruption programmes and policies.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the minister is in Washington to engage international media and think tank, promote and reiterate the successes of President Buhari’s administration.
In the interview anchored in English by Aliyu Mustapha of the VOA Hausa service, the minister said that the anti-corruption fight would be frontal in the agenda of the government “because corruption is one of the major causes of poverty and underdevelopment in the country.”
He recalled a saying by President Buhari that “if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us’ and reiterated the government’s commitment to the fight.
“The president is committed to the fight against corruption and the administration will continue with it.
“For example, the Treasury Single Account has instituted accountability in government‘s earnings and spendings and the whistleblower policy has led to the recovery of billions of naira.
“It takes more than four years to clean a country endemic in corruption. However, it is on record that this administration has driven corruption under the carpet in four years.
“In the next four years, therefore, the government will consolidate on the achievements recorded particularly in the fight against corruption,” he said.
Speaking on insecurity, the minister said that the administration would apply multi-dimensional approach besides deployment of forces.
He said the government was not unaware of other remote causes of the crises in the affected areas including economic and social reasons, non-inclusiveness, lack of infrastructure and job opportunities.
The minister noted that the administration had performed well in addressing insecurity and the country is safer than it was in 2015.
Specifically, he said the government had successfully secured the entire territory of the country from the Boko Haram while the farmers/herdsmen clash in Benue had been curtailed.
Mr Mohammed said the fight against banditry, killings and banditry in Zamfara and Kaduna has “been put under control” in the last two weeks because of the synergy among the security forces.
He assured that the government will continue to strengthen partnership on the regional and international levels in addressing the challenges.
The minister also said that the administration has made progress in economic recovery with deliberate programmers of diversifying the economy through agriculture and other sectors, as well as developing infrastructure.
‘Well deserved electoral victory’
Speaking on the general elections, the minister said President Buhari’s victory was well deserved and represented “the triumph of the ordinary Nigerians over the elite”.
He said having delivered on his electoral promises, the people voted for Mr Buhari and he won the elections fairly and squarely, with about four million votes.
He also said with the wide margin of winning, the government did not envisage “any attempt to delegitimise the will of the people”.
Mr Buhari’s main challenger at the polls, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party is already in court seeking to upturn the outcome of the elections.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says he owes his appointment as minister to President Muhammadu Buhari and no one else.
In a statement issued on Monday in Abuja, the minister said it was “laughable’’ that anyone would seek to take credit for his appointment.
Mohammed was reacting to a statement by Dr. Doyin Okupe the Special Adviser (Media) to the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, in which he gave credit to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki for the minister’s appointment.
The minister said that the entire statement by Okupe, “is nothing but fiction writing, for which he deserves a hall of infamy award (in the fiction writing segment).
“Not one of the claims he made in his statement is true.’’
Mohammed challenged Okupe to make available to Nigerians any evidence he might have to support his assertion that the President sought the permission of Saraki to appoint him as minister.
“We understand that Dr. Okupe’s cheap attempt at mud-throwing is nothing but a proxy fight, rooted deeply in the politics of Kwara State.
“We are aware that Okupe’s boss is feeling the heat emanating from the `O To Ge’ (enough is enough) movement in Kwara.
“ And that even the strongest of men will become disoriented and disillusioned at losing the support of a people who once venerated them to high heavens.
“But that is a self-inflicted wound for which Okupe’s boss, an acclaimed slave master, has no one but himself to blame,’’ Mohammed said.
The minister said he was very proud to lead the ‘O To Ge’ movement that is set to finally bring down the Berlin Wall of political hegemony in
Kwara State and send Okupe’s boss into political oblivion.
He said the movement will also free Okupe himself from merely being his master’s voice, so he can fully devote his time to his new-found pastime – fiction writing. (The Sun)
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FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja
The Federal Government has reacted to those claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari was cloned.
It described such talk as idiotic and that such people peddling the rumour were not worthy of getting government reaction.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said these in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
His response followed questions that the Federal Government should clear the air on the allegation.
Recall that there were insinuations that the President was cloned and that the man who is presiding over the affairs of the country is one Jibrin from either Sudan or Chad.
The rumour followed the miraculous recovery of the President when he was sick about two years ago.
Mohammed said, “It is idiotic to say the President is cloned. I don’t see any serious government responding to that.
“So, the same Jibrin that was cloned from Sudan or Chad is in Chad now? Isn’t that stupid?
“They even said he is from Chad. Yet, the same President is in Chad as we speak. The same Jibrin is remembering what the President did while in Petroleum Trust Fund and he is also remembering what he did when he was head of state between 1983 and 1985.
“All the ministers do not know who is before them when they attend the Federal Executive Council meeting? The President remembers memos he had seen or heard about in 1985 and we say he is cloned.
“So, Jibril from Chad or Sudan will now remember all of these? It is too silly for the government to respond to this. It must be ignored.” (Punch)
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Olusola Fabiyi, Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said while the media is free to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari, they should not denigrate him or his office.
The minister said this in Abuja on Thursday when he visited the Peoples Daily Newspapers, in continuation of his national campaign against fake news, which started in July.
Mohammed said in the rush to criticise Buhari and his government, some mainstream media platforms had resorted to the use of uncouth language to denigrate the President and his office.
He said, “In fact, fake news has taken another dimension. Now, it is not uncommon for otherwise respectable media organisations to accuse the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without backing up their accusation with an iota of evidence.
“The latest of such occurred two days ago, when a newspaper wrote an editorial in which it resorted to the use of uncouth language to denigrate the President on the farmers-herders clashes and other issues.
‘’In their eagerness to make the President unpopular, they forget that the President is the living symbol of the nation, and that by denigrating him, they are denigrating the country, including themselves.”
Mohammed said because of the impressive performance of the Buhari administration, the critics knew they could not take on the government on issues of performance, hence their resort to fake news.
Mohammed said, “They are unrelenting, because fake news is the only weapon they have against a performing administration like ours.”
“They know they cannot take on us on the issue of infrastructure, economy, fight against corruption, agricultural development, etc. They have, therefore, resorted to using fake news to make our administration unpopular. Thankfully, they are failing.”
In his remarks, the Chief Operating Officer of the Peoples Daily Newspapers, Mr Hameed Bello, described as very strategic Mohammed’s decision to rally the media in furtherance of the Federal Government’s campaign against fake news. (Punch)