Lai Mohammed’s ‘Off-record’ Gaffe

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Lai Mohammed

Notes for File

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was recently in the news and typically, not for a very pleasant reason. The minister, at a recent news conference, hinted that the cost of feeding the detained leader of the Shi’ite Islamic movement, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat was to the tune of N3.5million every month. But he claimed to have given out this information off-record.

Unfortunately for him, that piece of news was reported and followed by outrage to the extent that the minister not only voiced out that it was off-the-record, the medium that also released the information was equally forced to apologise for breaking a vital journalism ethic.

That said; you also want to ask: who is he that gives off-the-record information at a market square? It is true that it is almost not forgivable to break such an understanding in journalism, because it could badly harm your source. But even in handing out off-the-record information, it is certainly not to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Therefore, whilst the minister misused the right to hand out such sensitive information, the reporter also abused a rare privilege to classified information. Both are to blame here.