By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has formally petitioned CNN over the airing of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting of EndSARS protesters titled ‘How a Bloody Night of Bullets Quashed a Young Protest Movement’ and aired on November 18, 2020.
Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a letter, addressed to the CNN Vice President on Communications, Mr. Jonathan Hawkins, on November 23, 2020, described the report as blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organisation.
He also protested that the report did not just fall short of journalistic standards, but reinforced the disinformation being peddled around on the issue.
Mohammed described as inexcusable and indefensible CNN’s failure to live up to the principles of journalism on balance and fairness by rushing to air the story without presenting the
The federal government also cited another breach by the Atlanta, Georgia-based network in its investigation by relying on unverified footage which it sourced from social media while it had no reporter on the ground at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night of the incident.
“In airing its ‘investigative’ report, CNN conveniently forgot that on October 23, 2020, it emphatically tweeted, from its verified Twitter handle, that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. Almost a month later, the same CNN – after a supposedly exhaustive investigation – is now reporting only one death from what the world was made to believe was a massacre. Is CNN not embarrassed by this sharp climb down? Has CNN owned up to this and apologised for its faux pas?
“It is also interesting that while CNN obtained footage showing when the vehicles carrying soldiers left their barracks and arrived at the Lekki Toll Gate, it could not obtain any footage showing the bodies of those supposedly killed in the ‘massacre’. After all,
forensic ballistic experts will most likely testify that firing military-grade weapons into a crowd will not leave anyone needing a microscope to look for blood or bodies at the scene,” Mohammed said.
The Federal Government subsequently demanded an immediate retraction from CNN asking for an exhaustive investigation into its ‘investigative’ report on the Lekki Toll Gate incident to determine, among others, its authenticity and if it met the basic standards of journalism in addition to the selective use of unverified social media videos to manipulate public opinion.