The Federal Government has threatened to sanction a foreign media outlet, Cable News Network (CNN), over its report on the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20, 2020.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who made this known at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, described the report by the foreign news medium as “irresponsible journalism”.
He described the event of October 20, 2020, as a “massacre without bodies.”
Mohammed also insisted that not a single body has been produced or a single family has come out to claim their family member was killed at the Lekki Toll Gate.
The minister also alleged that CNN relied on social media video without verification to produce its report.
“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?
“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 its jaundiced reporting, CNN was blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks.
“Obviously, CNN did not consider the security agents human enough,” he said.
In reaction, the International Cable News Network (CNN) said its report on the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, was “carefully and meticulously researched”.
CNN stated this in a report, yesterday, in response to comments by the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the news platform practised “irresponsible journalism” by relying on fake videos sourced from social media to produce its report.
CNN had published an investigative report this week claiming soldiers fired live ammunition directly at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, a claim which Mohammed denied, yesterday.
Reacting, yesterday in another story titled, ‘Nigeria threatens CNN with sanctions but provides no evidence Lekki Toll Gate investigation is inaccurate’, the cable news network says it stands by its earlier report on the Lekki incident.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” CNN stated.
It added, “The report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geo-located by CNN. It painted a picture of how members of the Nigerian Army and the police shot at the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more.
“CNN verified photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters using timestamps and other data from the video files. Video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters. And accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.
“Prior to publishing the report, CNN tried multiple times to elicit comment from the Nigerian army and police. A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. While a statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway.”
The Lekki incident has been condemned locally and internationally by civil rights organisations.