Lai: Bandits levying Northerners same way area boys are doing in Southern Nigeria

Information Minister Lai Mohammed has reacted to reports of levies imposed by bandits in some Northern communities.

Mr Lai Mohammed in a press conference in his office in Abuja on Thursday likened the development to the conduct of street thugs often referred to as ‘area boys’ in the Southern part of the country.

The minister who was reacting to the recent criticism of The Economist, London’s widely known Magazine, said the scenario should not be seen as portraying the violence extremists as being in control of some federal jurisdictions.

“The issue is not about bandits collecting taxes,’’ he said. “But that’s not the same as saying there is a new caliphate.”

Debunking the report that bandits have taken over affairs in some Northern communities he explained that in the South, most street urchins impose similar levy, particularly on commuters, without consequences.

“Do you know how many places in this country where area boys collect taxes and there is no banditry there? Mr Mohammed queried. “I don’t want to mention names. In many of our cities, they carve out their own territories. So what they are writing is nothing. It is not indicative that the bandits have taken over.”

The minister who doubted the credibility of the western media he usually cites while in opposition as APC spokesman when criticising previous administrations also scolded the Nigerian media for republishing the viewpoint of the paper.

“The point is about you (Nigeria media) swallowing hook, line and sinker, a report by a foreign organisation, which you have not even interrogated yourself, that’s my problem,” the minister added.