Lai Mohammed Demands CNN Investigate its Own ‘Irresponsible’ Investigative Report On Lekki Shooting
Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has told American Cable News Network (CNN) to investigate its own recent investigative report on the shooting of peaceful protesters in Lagos.
Mohammed addressed a November 23, 2020 letter to Jonathan Hawkins, VP, Communications, CNN, accusing the network of publishing a report that ‘falls short of journalistic standards’, and reinforces disinformation in Nigeria.
Hundreds of Nigerians had peacefully protested in many states across the country in October to demand an end to years of wanton police brutality.
At least 15 protesters were reportedly killed by police officers who cracked down violently on the demonstrations in the initial days, despite the government’s attempts to meet the demands of the protesters.
The demonstrations eventually culminated in the deadly attack by soldiers on peaceful protesters in the Lekki area of Lagos on October 20, an attack that led to the death of a yet-to-be-determined number of protesters.
Contrary to the position of the Nigerian Army that soldiers only fired blanks into the air at the Lekki toll gate, the CNN investigation concluded that live rounds were fired.
In his Monday letter, Mohammed said the report was not balanced or fair as it did not present the government’s side.
Even though CNN noted in its report that the Lagos State government and the Nigerian Army failed to respond to enquiries over the eyewitness accounts covered in the report, Mohammed said no effort was made to speak to any official of the Federal Government.
He also accused the network of relying heavily on unverified footages harvested from social media, even though the report stated that the videos were verified.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had fined three local stations millions of naira for broadcasting similar unverified videos which the government has described as manipulated.
Mohammed demanded in his letter that CNN must launch an immediate investigation into its report on the incident to determine its authenticity.
“While it is up to CNN to accede or not, please note that the Federal Government reserves the right to take any action within its laws to prevent CNN from aggravating the #EndSARS crisis with unprofessional, irresponsible, one-sided, inciting, and sensational reporting that is capable of pitching Nigerians against themselves and setting the country on fire,”he said.
During a press conference last week, the minister said the media organisation should be sanctioned for the investigative report, but didn’t state how.