9 January 2014

Nigeria: Controversial House Video - Premium Times Replies Okonjo-Iweala

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

"Our attention has been drawn to a statement by the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, through her spokesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, accusing us of uploading a 'doctored video' of what transpired during her appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.

"In the statement, the minister used an earlier published two-minute video by Channels Television as a yardstick of what the ideal reporting should be concerning that controversial session, describing the Channels publication as "the authentic video account of the encounter."

"We find it unfortunate that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala would seek to create an impression that her session with the lawmakers lasted about two minutes only.

"It is even shocking that the minister and her aides do not understand that two media organizations will not necessarily see the same issue or event the same way?

"In any case, why is one reporting of the session okay by the minister because it suits her agenda and the other is doctored because it doesn't?

"For the avoidance of doubt, we stand 100 per cent by our published video.

"We challenge Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala to mention any scene, any at all, in our video that did not happen or was doctored.

"Our video was not to question or dismiss what Channels Television published. In fact, we agree completely that Channels reserve the right to determine how to report an event based on the best judgment of its reporters and editors. We had also referenced the Channels clip in our earlier stories of the incident.

"Unlike Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, however, we believe the footage published by the station was definitely just a part of what transpired at the session.

"It was in order to ensure that Nigerians get a fuller picture of what transpired that PREMIUM TIMES sourced the full video.

"Our aim was not to repeat what Channels had published (all what Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala accused us of omitting were contained in the Channel's clip), but to show that a lot more happened than was shown in the Channels video.

"Perhaps Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala would love to explain to Nigerians why she preferred limiting all her encounter with the lawmakers on that day to just a two-minute video, when ours, over four-minute long, is clearly more comprehensive, showing what transpired before the episode shown by Channels.

"Just like Channels Television and other responsible media houses, we are at liberty, using our best editorial judgment, to ensure that true and complete information on actions of public officials are brought to our readers.

"We therefore assure all our readers and viewers that we would continue to abide by basic journalism principles and continue to reveal that which public officials want to keep hidden."

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