The battle line between Federal Government and the Cable News Network (CNN) may have been drawn after the United State (US) based media organisation shrugged off the threat from the Nigerian government and insisted that its report of the country’s military attack of youths protesting against police brutality at Lekki tollgate was carefully done to unravel untold stories.
While CNN argued that the report accompanied with visuals were meticulously done and that it gave all concerned parties opportunities to air their view, the Nigerian Government, who maintained that the report was biased, said that the international media organisation must be sanctioned for what it termed unprofessionalism.
The face-off between both parties came on Thursday after the Federal Government, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that CNN should be sanctioned for misinformation and irresponsible reporting of the October 20 Lekki shootings.
Responding to the threat, US-based media giant, in a short and terse statement, stated that the investigation was approved by its management and that it would continue to stand by it.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” the cable network in a message sent through Electronic-mail.
Earlier, Muhammad, while reacting to the CNN report, described the report as one-dimensional and lacking in balance, just as he validated a report done by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which he claimed was based more on facts.
He referred to previous reports done by CNN as lacking balance, even as he insisted that the military fired blank bullets into the air and not at the crowd.
The minister urged that persons who have alleged massacres, as well as relatives with missing family members, report at the judicial panel to lay official complaints.
He also said the CNN report conveniently excluded the looting, violence by citizens, 269 private facilities burnt and looted, 243 govt facilities vandalized.
“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.
“CNN did not consider the security agents killed during the protest human enough. CNN, in its ‘investigation’, omitted the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages, in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate. Again, 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”