The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said bandits imposing levies on communities in Northern Nigeria are like thugs known as ‘area boys’ in the South.

He said does not mean the bandits have over the communities.

Mohammed stated 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.’

He said: “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.”

Mohammed said The Economist Intelligence Unit, which is a sister organization of The Economist magazine, is not infallible.

He said the London-based paper predicted Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in 2019.

“President Muhammadu Buhari won re-election by over three million votes. So, The Economist and other arms of the group are not infallible,” the minister argued.

Mohammed also berated the Nigerian media for regurgitating things published or reported by foreign media.

He said:

“The Nigerian media does itself a great disservice by turning itself into an echo chamber of the foreign media. When The Economist reported its patently-wrong and badly-researched story, it was immediately amplified by the local media, without even interrogating its content? This is totally unconscionable!

“In any case, why would the Nigerian media become an echo chamber for a foreign newspaper that denigrates the Nigerian military and makes light of the sacrifices of our valiant troops? Would the British or American press regurgitate a report in the Nigerian press denigrating their militaries?”

Lai Mohammed added that contrary to the article by The Economist, Boko Haram had been degraded.

He said, “Again, at a time that Boko Haram and ISWAP are taking on each other in mutually-destructive lockstep, and at a time that the terrorists are surrendering in droves as a result of heavy pounding by the military, it is wrong to say that Jihadists are carving out a Caliphate in the North-East, as The Economist reported.”