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Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has denied report that he contracted COVID-19 virus and was now in isolation, dismissing it as false.

The minister, who is among those reported to have contracted the virus within the presidency, refuted the report in a statement on Sunday by his spokesman, Segun Adeyemi.

The statement said, “The attention of Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Mohammed, has been drawn to a report making the rounds that he has contracted the COVID-19 virus and that he is now in isolation, where he is receiving treatment.

“For the record, the Minister does not have COVID-19, hence he is neither in isolation nor receiving treatment anywhere.

“That report, which was first published by an online newspaper and then latched on to by some mainstream lapdog media, once again highlights the uphill task we face in our campaign to stamp out fake news and misinformation.

“The Minister 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 Friday. All these events took place at the Villa, where the correspondents of many media organisations 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?

“As a member of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, the Minister has 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, he is not only fully vaccinated, he has also taken the booster shot, a situation that offers him different layers of protection even if he contracts the virus. For those who contract the virus, they deserve our empathy and prayers, not stigmatization.”

He urged the online newspaper behind the “fake news,” in the best tradition of journalism not only to retract the publication but also to apologise to him for causing him such embarrassment


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