The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the fact that bandits are imposing levies on communities does not mean they have taken control.
Mohammed said this during a press conference in Abuja on Thursday while reacting to an article by The Economist magazine titled, ‘Insurgency, secessionism and banditry threaten Nigeria.’
The minister said the London-based magazine was wrong to claim that terrorists had carved caliphates for themselves in the North-East.
While answering questions from journalists on banditry in the North-West where bandits now impose levies on communities, Mohammed argued that imposing levies does not mean criminals are in charge, adding that it takes place in many parts of the country, including in the South where touts commonly referred to as ‘area boys’, impose levies.
He added, “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.”
The minister urged the Nigerian media to stop glorifying negative reports published by their foreign counterparts.
Mohammed said The Economist Intelligence Unit, which is a sister organisation of The Economist magazine, had predicted in 2019 that the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, would win the election but the prediction turned out to be false.