The Federal Government of Nigeria and the Cable News Network (CNN) are now in a jotted war of words over the American media network’s report on the Lekki toll gate shooting during the #EndSARS protest.
There have been conflicting reports and stories over the true situation from the massacre that took place in Lekki Lagos where some #EndSARS protesters were reportedly gunned down.
While the Nigerian Army in its first comment claimed it was not responsible for the killings, saying that its men were not at the scene.
But the military later came out asserting that they were actually at the Lekki Toll gate, but only came on the orders of governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos. But the governor had since denied the Army’s claim.
Sanwo-Olu had on Wednesday, October 21 in a live broadcast exonerated himself from the involvement of the military in the now ‘infamous’ Lekki shooting, insisting that the control of military forces was not within the purview of a sitting governor.
“For clarity, it is imperative to explain that no sitting governor controls the rules of engagement of the military. I have, nonetheless, ordered an investigation into the rules of engagement adopted by men of the Nigerian Army that were deployed to the Lekki toll gate last night,” he had said.
While trying to unravel the situation, the CNN embarked on the investigation into the dastsed killing of innocent and armless protesters demanding an end end to police brutality and extortion by the now disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS.
The CNN in a report titled “How a bloody night of bullets and brutality quashed a young protest movement” published on Wednesday, November 18 gave a graphical account of what transpired on the night of Tuesday, October 20 at the Lekki Tollgate, including video, pictorial evidence and interviews with victims and their relatives.
But the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, slammed the CNN report, noting the investigation lacked fact, merit and credibility.
He said the federal government the country would sanction the US News network.
The Minister speaks in a press conference described the investigative report by CNN on the shooting as one-dimensional and lacking in balance.
Lai Mohammed added that CNN should be sanctioned for misinformation and irresponsible reporting, just as he maintained that the military fired blank bullets into the air and not at the crowd.
“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going around, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization,” he told reporters at a press conference in Abuja, in the most significant federal government response so far to the October 20 violence.
“I believe that CNN itself has internal mechanisms to discipline erring staff, but on our own part also we would do the needful. This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that,” he said.
But according to CNN, it said it stands by its investigation, a company spokesperson said.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” the spokesperson said via email.