Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, has refuted the assertion of Lai Mohammed, minister of information, that federal government spends N3.5 million every month to feed Ibrahim El-Zakzaky leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

Last week, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had said the federal government spends N3.5 million every month to feed El-Zakzaky.

The statement had sparked widespread criticism, with many describing the minister's claim as untrue.

But speaking when he received the management team of The Sun Newspaper in Kaduna on Thursday, the governor said the amount covered the cost of feeding those around  Zakzaky.

He said the Shi’ite leader was not detained illegally but held in custody as ordered by the court.

“The N3.5 million monthly feeding on El-Zakzaky is not only about his food, but other expenses on security men attached to him. The security men are permanently stationed with him, they surrounded where he is kept,” el-Rufai said.

“He is in custody because he is facing murder charge which is not bailable, among other charges.

“As a government, we decided to proscribe Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) of which El-Zakzaky is the president because it is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). So any procession in the name of IMN is illegal, as far as Kaduna State government is concerned.”

El-Zakzaky was arrested in 2015, following a confrontation between his group and soldiers in the entourage of Tukur Buratai, the chief of army staff.

Despite the bail granted to him by different court, he has been in custody.

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