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Minister Lai Justifies His Campaign Against Fake News, As Heat Turns On Him

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has justified his campaign to stamp out fake news in the country, against the background of a news that circulated yesterday, December 25 that he was tested positive for Covid-19.
In a statement today, December 26 by his spokesman, Segun Adeyemi, the Minister said that the report of his COVID19 positive was first published by an online newspaper and then
latched on to “by some mainstream lapdog media.”
The sensational report, Lai Mohammed said, “once again, highlights the uphill task we face in our campaign to stamp out fake news and
“A journalism mantra says ‘when in doubt, leave it out’. Also embedded in the code of ethics for journalists are the basic principles of
truthfulness and accuracy, among others. The report in question did not meet those standards.”
The Minister said that he was at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, an extraordinary FEC meeting on Thursday and also witnessed the swearing-in of the Minister of State for Works and Housing on
“All these events took place at the Villa, where the correspondents of many media organizations are deployed. In fact, the Minister coordinated the post-FEC press briefing on Wednesday and Thursday. Could he have done this from the imaginary isolation centre where he was consigned by a mischievous reporter?”
Lai Mohammed stressed that as a member of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, he had the added responsibility of leading by example, hence would not have hesitated to publicly announce his Covid-19 status if, indeed, he has contracted the virus.
“After all, I was not only fully vaccinated, I have also taken the booster shot, a situation that offers me different layers of protection even if I contract the virus. For those who contract the virus, they deserve our empathy and
prayers, not stigmatization.
“The media does itself a great disservice by making ‘exclusive news’ out of beer parlor gist. Sooner or later, the truth will come out and a fake-news-peddling-organization will have its credibility dented for good.
“In the best tradition of journalism, we expect the online newspaper behind this fake news not only to retract the publication but also to apologize to the Minister for causing him such embarrassment, especially in a season of joy.”

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