Lai Mohammed Chides CNN Over Clarification of its #EndSARS Tweet

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Lai Mohammed Chides CNN Over Clarification of its #EndSARS Tweet
Obiajulu Joel Nwolu

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture has reprobated Cable News Network, CNN, for backtracking on its earlier reports on the shootings at the Lekki tollgate area of Lagos State by clarifying tweets posted on its official Twitter handle.

CNN on Thursday admitted it misreported the death toll at the Lekki incidence, noting that tweet on October 23 did not emphatically state that the death toll was from protest across the country. It also denied attributing the number of casualties, 38, to Amnesty International.

The clarification comes on the back of a war of words between the Federal Government and the media establishment on factual report of the alleged of peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the toll gate area on the night of October 20, 2020.

CNN had on October 23 reported: “At least 38 people were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters. But the President failed to address the carnage, during his speech on Thursday, drawing criticism from protesters who accuse him of failing to show empathy and unifying the nation.”

The minister who has persistently rebuffed the CNN accounts of the Lekki incident, yesterday accused the media establishment of inaccuracy and unbalanced investigation.

He also berated the outfit for its desperation to justify its reports that protesters were massacred in Lagos.

Mohammed who disclosed this while speaking at a stakeholders engagement with members of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) in Abuja on Friday described CNN’s tweet on Thursday as the clearest indication yet of its confusion over the Lekki Toll Gate incident, wherein it attempted to clarify its tweet of October 23 by saying it never attributed the death toll of 38 to Amnesty International while adding that the tweet also failed to make it clear that the death toll was for protests across the country.

He said, “Commentators on the tweet tried to redirect CNN to the issue: which is its tweet of October 23 in which it said ‘At least 38 people were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday (October 20th) when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters.’ This is very unambiguous and CNN is exhibiting panic by seeking to clarify its tweet some 35 days later! Instead of engaging in such panic, CNN should come clean by admitting that it goofed badly on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.”

He vilified blamed CNN for relying on unauthenticated videos to carry out an investigation, describing as worrisome that an international broadcaster like it would switch casualty figures so casually without a credible source.

“This is why we have written a letter to CNN asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its investigation. We have received an acknowledgment of our letter, saying the letter has been referred to CNN’s Editorial Team. We await the outcome of their probe, but that is without prejudice to whatever we may decide to do as a government.

He added, “We will not sit by and allow any news organisation, local or foreign, to set Nigeria on fire with irresponsible and unprofessional reporting. CNN did not have a reporter or cameraman at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night in question, yet it emphatically reported a hoax story. Conversely, the BBC that had a reporter and an editor on the ground reported that soldiers shot into the air, not at protesters. I will rather believe the person on the ground than the one who is thousands of kilometres away,”

The minister also cautioned Nigerian broadcast stations for failure to take the lead in the reporting of the Lekki toll gate incident.


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This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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