It is a month today since the October 20 Lekki tollgate shooting that changed the course of the nationwide #EndSARS protest against police brutality and end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) outfit, reportedly infamous for terrorising, extorting money, and killing young Nigerians.
CNN had published its investigation on the matter on Wednesday, indicating that there were indeed casualties from the open fire.
Minister for Information and Culture Lai Mohammed Thursday dismissed the CNN investigation as "fake news" and "misinformation", repeatedly denying the military used live rounds against protesters. "Gen, Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of the Nigerian Army before the panel was compelling, and I am sure many of you have listened to or watched it". 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 worldwide news organization.
Amid various reports and reactions sparked by the shooting, Mr Mohammed said CNN should be sanctioned for publishing the report. 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.
He said, "CNN is an global media organization governed by laws that are not Nigerian in origin". CNN said it verified photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters using timestamps and other data from the video files.
"If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting?"
"CNN relied heavily on unreliable and possibly doctored videos as well as information sources from questionable sources to reach these conclusions", he continued. We are totally disappointed at the SHOW OF SHAME AND THE SHAMELESA VERBAL DIARRHOEA OF THE BUHARI'S MEDIA SPINDOCTOR AGAINST ONE OF THE GLOBAL MEDIA LEADERS THE CABLE NEWS NETWORK OF ATLANTA USA. Talking about the BBC, a reporter with the BBC's Pidgin Service, Damilola Banjo, was at Lekki Toll Gate protest ground that night.
During her interview with Anderson, she revealed how the government has openly bullied and attacked some of the protesters since the protest by seizing their global passports or illegally detaining them. CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.
According to CNN, the report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN.
"Six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed all over the country during the crisis".
"Obviously, CNN did not consider the security agents human enough", he said.
"CNN, in its "investigation", was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country".
"This is irresponsible journalism for which CNN deserves to be sanctioned".
"So, we strongly hope that the federal government would try and come up with a credible side of its Lekki shooting story and forget about sanctioning the CNN".
Mohammed insisted soldiers at the tollgate fired blank ammunition into the air which could not have done any damage.
He urged that persons who have alleged massacres as well as relatives with missing family members report at the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government to lay official complaints.