Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has reacted angrily to the CNN’s audiovisual report on the Lekki Toll-gate incident that saw some deployed soldiers of the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army shooting allegedly shooting live ammunitions at protesting youths.
Although, the Nigerian Army has continuously denied breaching the “rules of engagement” during the Lekki toll-gate operations, CNN, In an almost 6 minutes analytical video released during the week, presented a compilation of some footages taken at the scene of the incident with narratives to authenticate claims of some Nigerians who accused the military of firing live bullets on the protesters and killing and injuring unidentified number of people at the scene.
Enraged by the content of the wide circulating video, Lai Mohammed, during a press briefing held to address lingering post #EndSars protest issues, described the report by CNN on the Lekki toll-gate saga as totally baseless and unprofessional. According to the Minister, CNN’s report is over exaggerated and a “great disservice to journalism”.
The Minister questioned the motive behind the release by the media organisation and wondered why it had to rely mostly on “unverified social media footages” to buttress its point. He said, “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”
.”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”. Lai Mohammed said further.
Lai Mohammed however challenged the CNN reporters to balance its report by not only verifying its sources and materials, but also considering the defence put up by Brig. Gen. Taiwo of the Nigerian Army, who put up a defence on behalf of the Army at the Lagos Judicial Panel set up to address cases of injustices suffered by Nigerians in the hands of police forces as well as the Lekki toll-gate carnage.
He stated, “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 organization or any serious news organization? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis”.
Lai Mohammed while maintaining earlier government viewpoint that there was no killing during the military engagement with the EndSars protesters at the Lekki toll-gate venue, also tasked the CNN reporters to spread its wing of inquisition to the unfortunate demise of six soldiers and 37 police officers who were allegedly killed in an “unprovoked attacks” during the protest.
He said, “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. CNN, in its ‘investigation’, was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country”.
He however called for the sanction of the media organisation for the aired report. 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 lamented.