Nigerian Govt Attacks CNN Over Lekki Shooting Report

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed
19 November 2020

The minister said CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism.

The Minister Of Information And Culture, Lai Mohammed, has described the CNN investigation aimed at shedding more light on the Lekki shootings that happened on October 20, as "a poor piece of journalistic work."

CNN had published its investigation on the matter on Wednesday, indicating that there were indeed casualties from the open fire. The news media's findings largely reinforced an earlier report by PREMIUM TIMES detailing what transpired at Lekki Toll Gate.

READ: Full Statement by Information Minister Lai Mohammed

But the minister, on Thursday, during a briefing on the aftermath of the protest, said the international news organisation engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism.

"Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going round, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization.

"CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism. In the first instance, CNN, which touted its report as an exclusive investigative report, sadly relied on the same videos that have been circulating on social media, without verification.

"This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that. CNN merely said the videos were "obtained by CNN", without saying wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them. Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening?

"If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting? Relying on second or third hand information and presenting it as "CNN Investigation"? Why didn't the CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Brig.-Gen. Taiwo before the Judicial Panel in Lagos?

"Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organisation or any serious news organisation? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis.

"The BBC even did a report on this, and we recommend that report to CNN. Talking about the BBC, a reporter with the BBC's Pidgin Service, Damilola Banjo, was at Lekki Toll Gate protest ground that night. She was quoted as saying soldiers were indeed at the Toll Gate but they shot "sporadically into the air" and not at the protesters. CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.

"In airing its so-called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on October 23rd 2020, it tweeted, from its verified twitter handle, that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, October 20th 2020. Less than a month later, the same CNN, in what it called an EXCLUSIVE report based on a rehash of old, unverified videos, was only able to confirm that one person died in the same incident.

"In its jaundiced reporting, CNN was blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks.

He said CNN did not consider the security agents human enough.

"CNN, in its 'investigation', was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country. Also, CNN was blind to the burning of police stations and vehicles all over the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages, in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate. Again,

"This is irresponsible journalism for which CNN deserves to be sanctioned. We insist that the military did not shoot at protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Again, anyone who knows anyone who was killed at Lekki Toll Gate should head to the Judicial Panel with conclusive evidence of such," he said.

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