CNN Dares Lai Mohammed as Nigerian Authorities Tell Conflicting Stories
The Cable News Network (CNN) on Thursday replied to authorities in Nigeria that its report on the Lekki Tollgate shooting of peaceful #End SARS protesters on October 20 remains unchanged, insisting that men of the Nigerian Army arrived at the scene, shot at and killed Nigerians who were chanting the national anthem as the shootings continued.
Nigeria’s minister of information, Lai Mohammed, had earlier the same day referred to the CNN report as “blatantly irresponsible” while Nigerian Sketch reported the nation’s chief of army staff, Tukur Yusuf Buratai, to have said the army followed “rules of engagement” at the Lekki scene on the fateful day.
Also, an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari on social media, Lauretta Onochie, was quoted to have said “I’m not upset that CNN lied to the world about my nation, Nigeria. I’m upset that they think we are so stupid that we will swallow their lies. We won’t be bullied into believing a lie!”
But the Nigerian authorities have so far not been consistent in their account of the Lekki incident, notably shifting grounds from denying the presence of the army at the tollgate only to later reluctantly agree they were present after evidence of their presence became impossible to deny.
They also said they did not shoot at the protesters, only to later make a volte-face, agreeing that they shot but not live bullets.
There have also been inconsistency and even contradictions in the accounts given by the Nigerian authorities regarding where the orders to bring in the army came from.
While the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, said the order came quarters above him, the army have responded that the governor invited them. Meanwhile there have been analysts who said the army can only take such orders from the president, not a governor.
The government in Nigeria has so far become sensitive to any information that tend to link it to the unjustifiable killing of its citizens, reacting to both local and international accounts that suggest the incidence was brutal.
Responses to the CNN report have so far followed the same pattern as reactions to Amnesty International report towed, with government functionaries making sweeping denials and calling the sources of the reports names.
Lai Mohammed even called for sanctions on foreign media for what he called “blatantly irresponsible” reports.
But CNN has maintained that “Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a spokesperson for the outlet was quoted by Daily Trust to have said.