#ENDSARS LEKKI SHOOTINGS: OUR REPORTING WAS CAREFULLY AND METICULOUSLY RESEARCHED, AND WE STAND BY IT - CNN TELLS NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT
Cable News Network (CNN) has reacted to comments by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, over its forensic investigation into
the October 20 shootings at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a spokesperson for CNN said in an email on Thursday, November 19.
The reaction of the American-based news Agency was in response to the claim by Lai Mohammed who said that the report published by CNN was one-dimensional and lacked balance.
Lai Mohammed during a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, November 19, insisted that the military fired blank bullets into the air and not at protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20,2020.
Mohammed described the CNN investigation as "fake news" and "misinformation," repeatedly denying the military used live rounds against protesters.
The Minister added that the International media organisation would be sanctioned.
"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.
"This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that.
"Six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed all over the country during the crisis
"CNN relied heavily on unreliable and possibly doctored videos as well as information sources from questionable sources to reach these conclusions," he said.
Reacting to the minister’s comments, 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.
CNN said:"It painted a picture of how members of the Nigerian army and the police shot at the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more."
The news agency said before publishing the report it tried multiple times to elicit comment from the Nigerian army and police.
"A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. While a statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway." It said.
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.
Recall that Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo of the Nigerian Army told the Judicial Panel set up by the Lagos State Government that the soldiers only fired blank ammunition at the peaceful unarmed protesters.
However, current and former military sources, as well as ballistic experts, confirmed to CNN that the bullet casings found at the scene of the shooting were live rounds.
When the news first broke, the army initially denied deploying soldiers to attack #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza, terming several of such reports as FAKE NEWS via its official Twitter handle.
Speaking at the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government, Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo said “there's no way officers and men will kill their brothers and sisters. I repeat no way. We have those who constantly seek to drive a wedge between us and between the citizens of Nigeria."