Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has called for CNN to be sanctioned for what he describes as reinforcement of “the disinformation that is going around” following CNN’s investigations which claimed that Nigerian protesters were shot at by security forces in Lagos in October.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mohammed described the conclusions of the investigations as “fake news” meant to disinform.
“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going around, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization,” decried the minister.
“CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself,” Mohammed added. But CNN has defended its reporting, saying it was “carefully and meticulously researched.”
The minister took issues with CNN’s usage of videos collected from protesters who were at the scene on October 20 to film the altercation with soldiers and the police. However, the news outlet said it was able to verify the authenticity of those footages with the help of professionals.
“The report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN. It painted a picture of how members of the Nigerian army and the police shot at the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more,” the report from CNN claimed.
Protests against police brutality in Nigeria, gathered momentum from social media via the hashtag #EndSARS, in mid-October. However, with time, the concerns of the protesters devolved into subjects of underdevelopment in Nigeria.
The protests inarguably and largely took authorities in Africa’s largest economy by surprise as several Nigerians mobilized and took to the streets in their efforts to double down on their demands – becoming one of the most unprecedented protests in the country’s history.
While non-profit human rights organization Amnesty International reports that several people were killed over the two-week protests, the Nigerian government maintains that the reported October 20 massacre did not happen at all.