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El-Zakzaky: Nigeria lavishes N115,000 daily on ‘forced’ prisoners—Minister

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Spend N3.5 monthly to feed the Shiites leader

Godsgift Onyedinefu

The Nigerian government has despite the fact that many live below one dollar a day and the  country overtaking India with the highest number of poor people, spends N115,000 ($328) daily to feed prisoners.

Giving this hint was the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, who said that the government spends the sum of N3.5m monthly to feed incarcerated leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

Mohammed made this disclosure on Wednesday while addressing State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

El-Zakzaky was arrested in December 2015 after members of his religious group had a clash with men of the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.

According to Mohammed, ”Please the issue of where El-Zakzaky is should be kept off the record. It cost the Federal government about N3.5 million every month to feed him, this is a fact.

“We don’t want to inflame passion because its a very sensitive matter but that is the situation. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria are a different kind of group.”

Mohammed’s statement on the Shiite leader was made same day the Kaduna court denied Mr El-Zakzaky bail.

A video of Mohammed making the claim while addressing some journalists has gone viral spaking outrage among Nigerians.

The minister had made the claim but after the Minister of Transport, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, who was sitting beside him playfully expressed shock at the humongous figures,  told journalists he was speaking off the record.

The video, however, still made its way to the public and has since gone viral, drawing wide criticisms of the minister.

“The issue of whether, where he (Mr El-Zakzaky) is, at least let’s keep it off record, that he is in a residence and you know eating at the…

“It costs the government about N3.5 million every month to feed him,” Mohammed said.

At this point the information minister was interjected by Amaechi, who jokingly mocked the figures saying “then you people need to take me in o.”

But instead, Mohammed defended the figure he announced, saying “Honestly, don’t quote me, but these are the facts.”

At this point Mr Amaechi joked further that he “can take N500,000” monthly to be held in prison by the government.

Mohammed then briefly explained that he “asked” from relevant people to arrive at his information.

“So please. We don’t want to inflame passion. The issue is a very sensitive matter. But that is the situation. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria are a different kettle of fish,” he said.

At N3.5 million monthly, it would mean the government claims it spends about N115,000 daily to feed the forced prisoner.

Mohammed’s claims of N3.5 million monthly also comes at a time the government is finding it difficult to pay a monthly minimum wage of N30,000 to workers.

Already, many people on social media who have seen the video have attacked the minister for lying and brandishing false figures.

See some of the reactions below:


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