By Charles Ike-Okoh
THUR, 19 NOV, 2020-theGBJournal– Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed during a press conference today, presented Nigeria’s official stance on the incidents surrounding the alleged shootings and killings of #EndSARS protesters last month at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos, mounting a spirited attack at the same time on CNN, for its report which tried to unearth evidence of use of live ammunitions by the military and consequent deaths of several Nigeria youths.
The Minister said the CNN report reinforces the disinformation that is going round and ‘’it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organisation.’’
Lai Mohammed said he watched the CNN report (yesterday), ‘’I must tell you that 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 same videos that has 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 where from and whether or not it authenticated them.’’
Vexed Lai Mohammed asked rhetorically if CNN reporters and cameramen were at the Lekki tollgate that evening.
‘’The answer is no. On what basis were they reporting? Relying on second and third hand information and presenting it as CNN investigation? Why didn’t the CNN balance its story by showing a compelling testimony of Brigadier General Taiwo before the Judicial Panel in Lagos? Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organisation/for 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.’’
He recalled that in airing its so called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on October 23rd, 2020, it twitted from a verified twitter handle that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday October 20, 2020.
‘’Less than a month later, the same CNN in what it called an exclusive report based on the rehash of old unverified videos was only able to confirm that one person died in the same incident. It is 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. CNN, in its investigation was blind to the wanton destruction of properties in Lagos and across the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki tollgate. Again, this is irresponsible journalism of which CNN deserved to be sanctioned.’’
‘’We insist that the military did not shoot at the protesters at the Lekki tollgate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Anyone who knows anyone who was killed at the Lekki tollgate should head straight to the Judicial Panel with conclusive evidence of such.’’
Lai Mohammed also made a strong case for the role the security agencies played during the crisis arguing that the Federal Government is very satisfied with the role they played, especially the role played by the military and the police.
He said, ‘’the security agencies were professional and measured in their response. Even when their lives were at stake, they exercised uncommon restraint. Their professionalism and measured response saved many lives and properties.’’
He said CNN goofed in its preconceived stance that soldiers who were deployed to Lekki tollgate indeed, shot at protesters killing some of them.
‘’CNN relied heavily on unverified and possibly, doctored videos as well as information sourced from questionable sources to reach the conclusion. This will earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting.’’