International Cable News Network, CNN, has replied the comments by the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the news platform practised “irresponsible journalism” by relying on fake videos sourced from social media to produce its report on Lekki Shooting.
CNN had published an investigative report this week claiming soldiers fired live ammunition directly at protesters at the Lekki toll gate, a claim which Mohammed denied on Thursday.
The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed in a world press Conference on Thursday, described the CNN’s report as blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization.
Mr Lai Mohammed said CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism.
His said: “CNN, which touted its report as an exclusive investigative report, sadly relied on the same videos that have been circulating on social media, without verification. This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that.
“CNN merely said the videos were ”obtained by CNN”, without saying wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them. Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening? If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting? Relying on second or third hand information and presenting it as ”CNN Investigation”?
“If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis.”
But reacting to the Nigerian government’s comment, CNN Spokesperson told TVC News that its reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, saying it strands by it.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” CNN stated.
“CNN verified photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters using timestamps and other data from the video files. Video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters. And accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.
“Prior to publishing the report, CNN 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,” CNN stated.
The Lekki incident has been condemned locally and internationally by civil rights organisations, but the Minister of Information and Culture has challenged anyone with evidence(s) of deaths to approach the Lagos Panel of Inquiry.