The federal government has said the only way it would believe their was a massacre at Lekki toll gate is if promoters of #EndSARS campaign produce evidence.
This is as CNN yesterday provided evidence of shooting by soldiers at unarmed protesters in its investigative report.
Speaking on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed, insisted that the claim of a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate was false and that attempts by the protesters and some human rights groups to tarnish the image of the country using fake news and other disdainful tactics does not and cannot change the fact.
The minister insisted that the military merely fired blank ammunitions into the air and not even at protesters at the Toll Gate to scare them away after the police and other security age.
“While the Judicial Panel sitting in Lagos works to unravel what really transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate, available evidence so far points to the world’s first case of MASSACRE WITHOUT BLOOD OR BODIES,” the minister said, challenging those making claims of massacre to “show proof before the panel or shut up”
“The Federal Government is very satisfied with the role played by the security agencies, especially the military and the police, all through the EndSARS crisis. The security agents were professional and measured in their response. Even when their lives were at stake, they exercised uncommon restraint,” he added.
Reacting to the CNN investigation, Mohammed said:
“CNN goofed in its preconceived stance that the soldiers who were deployed to Lekki Toll Gate indeed shot at protesters, killing some of them. CNN relied heavily on unverified and possibly-doctored videos, as well as information sourced from questionable sources, to reach its conclusion. This should earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting.
“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. 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”?
“Why didn’t the CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Brig.-Gen. Taiwo before the Judicial Panel in Lagos? Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organization or any serious news organization? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis.
“In airing its so-called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on Oct. 23rd 2020, it tweeted, from its verified twitter handle, that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, Oct. 20th 2020. Less than a month later, the same CNN, in what it called an EXCLUSIVE report based on a rehash of old, unverified videos, was only able to confirm that one person died in the same incident.
“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. CNN, in its ‘investigation’, was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country.
“Also, CNN was blind to the burning of police stations and vehicles all over the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages, in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate. Again, This is irresponsible journalism for which CNN deserves to be sanctioned. We insist that the military did not shoot at protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Again, anyone who knows anyone who was killed at Lekki Toll Gate should head to the Judicial Panel with conclusive evidence of such.”
CNN has however, countered back saying its investigation was thorough and verified.