The Nigerian government and Cable News Network (CNN) are widening gulf of animosity over the shooting and killing of #ENDSARS protesters at Lekki Plaza in Lagos State on October 20, this year.
On Wednesday, November 18, the international media house shared an in-depth report of its investigation on the incident. The report showed videos of what appears to be soldiers shooting directly at the protesters.
CNN in its report said investigations showed that live ammunition was fired at the protesters. The media house also spoke with one Elisha Sunday who claimed his brother was killed in the incident. Read here.
While reacting to CNN’s in-depth investigation into the incident, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, called on the news agency’s sanction for its investigation into the shooting at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.
Speaking at press conference in Abuja on Thursday, Mohammed said the report by CNN was one-dimension and lacked balance. He also questioned where the media house got the live ammunition they claimed was shot at the scene of the incident.
The Federal Government has said that international media house, CNN, should be sanctioned over its investigative report on the October 20 shooting that took place at the Lekki tollgate where #EndSARS protesters had gathered to demand an end to police brutality.
Describing the report as “irresponsible journalism”, he alleged that CNN relied on social media videos without verification to produce its report.
“This should earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting,” Mohammed said.
The Minister added that the Federal government was standing by testimony given by the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo, who told the Judicial Panel of Inquiry instituted by the Lagos State Government last Saturday, November 14, that the military officers who were at the tollgate on that day, fired blank bullets.
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.
The army has continued to insist that no live ammunition was fired at the protest ground, stressing that only blank bullets were used to disperse the demonstrators.
Reacting to the minister’s comments in a post published on its website, CNN stated that the report, titled ‘How A Bloody Night Of Bullets And Brutality Quashed A Young Protest Movement,’ was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, as well as photos and video obtained and geolocated by the news agency.
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 as saying in an email on Thursday.
But the CNN, in its reaction, stressed that its report painted a picture of how soldiers shot at the crowd of harmless protesters, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more.
It explained that photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters were verified using timestamps and other data from the video files.
According to the news outfit, video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of demonstrators, and accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.
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.