The federal government has claimed it spends N3.5 million monthly to feed the detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim el-Zakzaky.
This is coming as the outgoing United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, Thursday appealed to protesting members of IMN and security agencies to always allow the rule of law guide their conducts.
Arkwright also denied the involvement of the British Government in the cancellation of the planned address of the British House of Lords by Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made the claim on the feeding of IMN leader in a video that went viral on the internet Thursday.
The minister, who was apparently addressing journalists, was heard saying in the video that he was giving the journalists the information on an off-the-record basis to serve as a background to their reports.
But Oak Television released it to the internet, trending on social media early yesterday.
Mohammed, in the video, said it was wrong to liken what was happening to el-Zakzaky, whose followers have been engaging security agents in confrontation since his incarceration, to what happened to the late leader of Boko Haram, Yusuf.
He said the IMN leader was undergoing criminal prosecution in Kaduna State and the court had denied him bail.
The minister explained that instead of detaining him in a prison, the federal government decided to hold el-Zakzaky in a building belonging to the Department of State Services (DSS).
He said the Islamic cleric ate whatever he liked in detention.
“It costs the government about N3.5 million every month to feed him,” the minister declared.
Mohammed explained to them that he got the figure from the relevant government agencies upon enquiry.
At that point, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was apparently briefing journalists alongside Mohammed, jokingly told him (Mohammed) that he (Amaechi) too was willing to be taken into custody.
Justifying why he volunteered the information on an off-the-record basis, the minister described the issue involving the IMN as a “sensitive” one.
“So, please, we don’t want to inflame passion. The issue is a very sensitive matter. But that is the situation,” the minister said.