CNN report on Lekki shooting a piece of ‘incredible sensationalism’ – Minister

Alhaji Lai Mohammed:: Information and culture Minister

Nigerian Government on Thursday condemned a trending report of the Cable News Network, CNN on alleged shooting of EndSARS protesters at Lekki area of Lagos  as ‘incredible sensationalism and ‘a great disservice to journalism.’

CNN had in the report published about 48 hours ago seek to disprove the claims by government and the military that no protester was killed by the troops used to disperse protesters against police brutality in Lagos in the evening on Tuesday, 20 October.

But speaking to journalists at a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the CNN report is a mere reinforcement of disinformation already circulating in the social media about alleged shooting of EndSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate..

The Minister also condemned the global television news station over its failure to acknowledge that officials of Nigerian security operatives were killed by hoodlums who hijacked the protest.

He therefore called for sanctioning of CNN over the report.

The Minister said, “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. 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 the same videos that have 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 wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them.

“Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening? If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting? 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.

“The BBC even did a report on this, and we recommend that report to CNN. Talking about the BBC, a reporter with the BBC’s Pidgin Service, Damilola Banjo, was at Lekki Toll Gate protest ground that night. She was quoted as saying soldiers were indeed at the Toll Gate but they shot ‘’sporadically into the air’’ and not at the protesters. CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.

“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.