The federal government Monday made good its threat to formally petition CNN over what it described as blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a letter, addressed to the CNN Vice President, responsible for Communications, Mr. Jonathan Hawkins, said the CNN report did not only fall short of standard journalistic practice, but also sought to fortify an already held piece of misinformation and fake news being peddled around about the Lekki, Lagos #EndSARS protest.
The minister who described as most inexcusable and highly indefensible CNN’s failure to live up to the principles of responsible and ethical journalism premised on the basic fundamentals of balance, comprehensiveness, parity and fairness by rushing to air their own narrative without entertaining response from the government side in the entire report.
Recall that the CNN had aired its reportage of the Lekki Toll Gate shooting of #EndSARS protesters entitled ” How a Bloody Night of Bullets Quashed a Young Protest Movement” on November 18, 2020.
But Mohammed in his letter to CNN maintained that the organization erred in its investigation by premising its entire report on “unverified footage “which it sourced from social media channels as it had no reporter on the ground during the very night the protest broke at the Lekki Toll Gate.
He said: “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.”
While expressing its complete disapproval of the report and calling on CNN to effect corrective measures, Lai Mohammed said a comprehensive, robust and exhaustive investigation into its ‘investigative’ report on the Lekki Toll Gate incident is necessary.
According to him, this would enable CNN to determine, among other things, the veracity, authenticity, standard reportorial ethics and journalistic pattern of the entire reportage.