By Olajide Meseko
Information minister Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, summoned the head of press at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Ibraheem Al-Hassan after he committed grammatical blunders in a statement released to journalists on Tuesday.
Al-Hassan had written and issued the statement by himself on Tuesday, 30 March 2021, to debunk reports that his boss and chairman of the CCT Justice Danladi Umar assaulted a security guard at Banex Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja.
However, Al-Hassan’s statement contained linguistic, structural, ethical and other blunders not expected of a professional of his calibre.
The statement has since gone viral on social media as Nigerians derided both the writer and the CCT.
Al-Hassan used ‘video cliff’ in his statement, rather than ‘video clip.’ Also, he preferred using ‘packing lot’ to the correct version, ‘parking lot.’ He also used the phrase ‘had went’ instead of ‘had gone.’
“The boy was rode in his approached and threaten,” one of his sentences read. This should have read: “the boy was rude in his approach and threatened.”
He committed a grammatical gaffe mixed with ethnic slur against the people of the South-East Nigeria by categorising people he did not know their ethnicity as ‘Biafrans.’
In Al-Hassan’s words, the chairman was “overwhelmed by the mobs, consisting of BIAFRAN boys throwing matches and shape object to his car.” He should have said that his boss was “overwhelmed by the mob, consisting of BIAFRAN boys throwing matches and sharp objects at this car.”
The use of ‘BIAFRAN boys’ is ethically wrong because it is ethnic profiling. It possesses secessionist undertone and conflicts with Nigeria’s Constitution, which recognises a united Nigerian state.
Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Al-Hassan said he was not at the CCT but had been summoned to the Ministry of Information by the minister “to clear some issues.”
He revealed that his boss instructed him to use ‘Biafran boys’ in the statement, indicating that the people who allegedly swooped on him were of Igbo extraction. The PRO said he later realised his mistake.
“There’s a problem with that statement. In fact, we are about disowning it. We want to retract the content because it was written under intense pressure. I must confess to you, that is why there are many structural imbalances, language structure not being perfect and, again, some of the expressions used. I acted on instruction.”
The ICIR sought to know if he wrote the statement and he answered in the affirmative.
He then went on: “Now as I am speaking with you, I’m in my ministry. My ministry has summoned me for that statement. My minister, so to say, through my director. So, I should be given some time to get this problem solved.”
Al-Hassan works in the Ministry of Information and Culture but was deployed to work as public relations officer at the CCT. He has worked at the tribunal since 2013.
Speaking in an emotion-laden voice, Al-Hassan told The ICIR that he was under intense pressure when the statement was issued and that he did not take his time to edit it before sending it out to reporters.
“All the grammatical errors and what have you, were not noted. I did not proofread it, I was in the car when I composed it with my android (phone),” he said.
It was after it had gone out that he realised the statement was laced with errors, he stated.
Asked if he nurtured any fear he could be punished by his superiors, he said: “What should I do? I am now in my ministry as I speak with you. That is Ministry of Information.”
According to him, he hadn’t experienced any problem doing his job for eight years until yesterday when he committed the blunder.
“There are series of issues in that place and I have been able to manage them. There has never been an issue with my statements,” he stated, adding that “as I am speaking with you, I am regretting my action.”
The full statement as issued by Al-Hassan on Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Press Statement from the Code of Conduct Bureau
Our attention was drawn on a report from some online publication with a video cliff suggesting Hon Chairman, Justice Danladi Y. Umar assaulted a Security Guard at Banex Plaza.
To start with, the said plaza has been his usual place of visits for the past 18 years for shopping and repairs of his phones, and in all these periods there have never been any time he had any turmoil with anybody.
Unfortunately, yesterday’s altercations started over a packing lot, which Chairman met vacant and it was directly opposite a shop he want to make a purchase and to fixe his phone, when the young Security guard sighted him, he ordered that Chairman should not pack his car in that particular empty space, but Chairman asked why, the security guard couldn’t convinced chairman, though Chairman didn’t identify himself, because to him is needless and is a place he visited often, but the boy was rode in his approached and threaten to deal with Chairman if he refuse to leave the scene.
Again, if Chairman had went there to cause trouble or intimidate some one, as suggested in the report, he would have gone there in his full official paraphernalia, but he went there alone with his younger brother.
The Police men seen in the video cliff were not the Chairman’s police team, they were policemen operating around the plaza whom at first instance intervened before the arrival of police team from Maitama Police station. As the few policemen in the complex were apparently overwhelmed by the mobs, consisting of BIAFRAN boys throwing matches and shape object to his car, which led to deep cut and dislocation in one of his finger, causing damage to his car, smashing his windscreen.
Did Lai Mohammed say the Igbos are responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment?
At a point he attempted to leave the scene, these same miscreants, BIAFRAN boy ordered for the closure of the gate thereby assaulting him before the arrival of police team from Maitama police station.
An incident like this when it happened, sympathy usually goes to the low personalities. Though is unfortunate as I said, it ought not to have happened.”
Head, Press & Public Relations.
March, 30th 2021.