The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has dismissed the claim that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Amid reports that some presidential aides have contracted the virus, the minister stated that he was neither in isolation nor received treatment for the disease.
“For the record, the minister does not have COVID-19, hence he is neither in isolation nor receiving treatment anywhere,” his media aide, Segun Adeyemi, said in a statement on Sunday.
“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.
“A journalism mantra says, ‘when in doubt, leave it out’. Also embedded in the code of ethics for journalists are the basic principles of truthfulness and accuracy, among others. The report in question did not meet those standards.”
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According to Adeyemi, Mohammed attended the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, an extraordinary FEC meeting on Thursday, and the swearing-in of the Minister of State for Works and Housing on Friday.
He explained that his principal coordinated the post-FEC press briefing on Wednesday and Thursday, wondering how he could have performed such a task from an isolation center.
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The minister’s spokesman said as a member of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mohammed would not have hesitated to publicly announce his COVID-19 status if he was infected.
“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,” Adeyemi said. “For those who contract the virus, they deserve our empathy and prayers, not stigmatisation.
“In the best tradition of journalism, we expect the online newspaper behind this fake news not only to retract the publication but also to apologise to the minister for causing him such embarrassment, especially in a season of joy.”