Cable News Network (CNN) has reacted to comments by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on the report of its investigation into the shooting at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos, titled ‘How A Bloody Night Of Bullets And Brutality Quashed A Young Protest Movement’,
The network said it stood by its report that the Nigerian military used live bullets on #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, killing at least one, with dozens others injured.
It insisted that it did not rush to publish the report as it ensured due processes were followed, which included thorough research.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a spokesperson for the American-based news agency was quoted.
“The report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geolocated 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,” it said.
It added that prior to publishing the report, multiple efforts were made to get the reactions of army and police authorities.
“A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. A statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway,” CNN said.
While the Nigerian Army confirmed that soldiers were deployed at the venue where peaceful #EndSARS protesters had gathered on October 21, it insisted that nobody was killed.
Amid various reports and reactions sparked by the shooting, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said CNN should be sanctioned for publishing the report.
Addressing a press conference On Thursday in Abuja ,Lai Mohammed said: “I watched CNN report yesterday and I must tell you that it reinforces the misinformation that has been going around and it is a blatantly irresponsible and poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international media.
CNN said ‘the videos obtained by CNN’ without saying where from or whether it is authenticated. Were CNN reporters and cameramen at Lekki Toll Gate? The answer is no.
“On what basis were they reporting? Relied on 2nd or 3rd hand information and presenting it as CNN’s investigation. Why didn’t CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Brig. Gen. Taiwo before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry?
“This one-sided reporting is not 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 misinformation used were trending during the #EndSARS crisis.”
The minister made reference to a report by BBC’s Damilola Banjo who was at the Lekki Toll Gate and who confirmed in his report that “soldiers were indeed at the Lekki Toll Gate, but they shot sporadically into the air and not at the protesters.”
“But the CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.
‘If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis”, Mohammed said.
“In airing its so-called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on Oct. 23rd 2020, it tweeted, from its verified twitter handle, that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, Oct. 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,” he said.