Oak Television has apologised to the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, over a video in which the minister claimed the federal government spends N3.5 million monthly to feed the leader of the Shiite Islamic sect, Ibrahim El-zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015.
The minister spoke off the record, but somehow the clip found its way to the internet, trending on social media early Thursday.
The private TV in its apology letter to the minister on Thursday, said it has sanctioned its reporters for breach of journalism code of ethics, as the minister had spoken off record with the reporters.
“On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, Oak TV made some error in its reporting regarding a conversation with the Minister of Information,” the channel said.
”This is an error which we regret. All team members involved have been sanctioned, and we would do more to tighten our gatekeeping responsibilities.
”We apologise and regret any embarrassment this might have caused the Minister.”
Mr Mohammed’s statement is believed to have been made on the same day a Kaduna court denied Mr El-Zakzaky bail.
A video of the minister making the claim while addressing some journalists has gone viral.
PREMIUM TIMES confirmed Mr Mohammed did make the claim but had told journalists he was speaking off record.
“The issue of whether, where he (Mr El-Zakzaky) is, at least let’s keep it off record, that he is in a residence and you know eating at the.
“It costs the government about N3.5 million every month to feed him,” Mr Mohammed said.
The information minister was at that point interjected by the transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, who jokingly mocked the figures saying “then you people need to take me in o.”
Mr Mohammed, then defended the figure he announced, saying “Honestly, don’t quote me, but these are the facts.”
At N3.5 million monthly, it would mean the government is spending about N115,000 daily to feed the detainee.
The claim has earned the minister intense criticisms with many Nigerians dismissing the figure as implausible.