FG protests CNN’s Lekki shootings documentary, calls it irresponsible
The Federal Government has insisted that the military men did not shoot at #EndSARS protesters at
the Lekki Tollgate, describing the alleged mass killings as a massacre without bodies.
This follows a recent investigative report by US-based media, Cable News Network (CNN), in which they
published a video, allegedly showing Nigerian soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters at the Lekki Tollgate,
based on video evidence from mobile phones of witnesses.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated these in his letter to Jonathan Hawkins,
VP (Communications), CNN Centre, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
The letter, dated November 23, 2020 and titled, ‘Re: How a bloody night of bullets quashed a young protest
movement’, was obtained in Abuja on Monday.
The letter read partly, “We write to put on record that the report did not just fall short of journalistic standards,
it reinforces the disinformation that is going around on the issue, it is blatantly irresponsible and it is a poor
piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization.”
The government said rushing to air the story without presenting the government’s side was inexcusable and indefensible.
“CNN said it contacted over 100 protesters and family members, but did not speak to one official of Nigeria’s
Federal Government. While CNN said there was no response from the army and that officials of Lagos State
would not speak given the Judicial Panel that is investigating the matter, it did not say what effort is made to
speak with any official of the Federal Government.
“The truth is that CNN did not even attempt to reach the Federal Government. Nima Elbagir, who presented the
report and most probably led the investigation, is conversant with the Minister of Information and Culture,
who is also the spokesman for the Federal Government of Nigeria, yet did not say that she even tried to reach
the minister,” the letter added.
The Federal Government also lamented that the television relied “heavily on unverified footages it harvested
from social media,” adding that such was fraught with danger.
“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.
However “CNN has said it stands by its story, and that ‘our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched.’
This is baffling, considering that the story lacks fairness and balance,” the FG said.