The federal government of Nigeria has threatened to sanction CNN over its report on the Lekki shooting.
On Wednesday, CNN published its investigation on the incident, alleging that soldiers used live bullets on #EndSARS protesters who had converged on Lekki tollgate on October 20.
The army insists that its men only fired blank bullets in the air to disperse the protesters.
Speaking at the news conference on Thursday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, described the alleged killing at the Lekki tollgate as ”massacre without bodies”.
He said CNN was irresponsible in its report.
“This should earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting,” he said.
The minister also alleged that CNN relied on social media video without verification to produce its report.
“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going round, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization.
“CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism.
“In the first instance, 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.
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“Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening? If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting?
“If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the End SARS crisis.
“The BBC even did a report on this, and we recommend that report to CNN. Talking about the BBC, a reporter with the BBC’s Pidgin Service, Damilola Banjo, was at Lekki Toll Gate protest ground that night.
”She was quoted as saying soldiers were indeed at the Toll Gate but they shot ‘’sporadically into the air’’ and not at the protesters. CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.
“In its jaundiced reporting, CNN was blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks.
“Obviously, CNN did not consider the security agents human enough,” he said.
“While we await the Judicial Panel in Lagos to unravel what transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate, what we can say, based on testimonies available in the public space, is that the world may have just witnessed, for the very first time ever, a MASSACRE WITHOUT BODIES! Some have tagged it ‘social media massacre’, the Minister said.
He further described the call for sanctions against Nigerian government officials on the basis of the hoax as irresponsible.
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“More surprising and irresponsible is the fact that some people have been calling for sanctions against Nigeria or against Nigerian government officials on the basis of a hoax. This is one of the dangers of fake news and disinformation. Once fake news is out, many run with it, without looking back, even when the truth is eventually revealed. ”
The minister further called on those who have said there was a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate to go to the Judicial Panel to present their evidence(s) to the world or simply admit that they have goofed.