Olumide Babalola, Nigerian counsel to the Cable News Network (CNN), has called on the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to tender an apology to the medium for tagging it a fake news outfit after an investigative report carried out by the American media house on the killing of protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020.
In November 2020, Mohammed said a report by CNN on the Lekki shooting “did not just fall short of journalistic standards but reinforces the disinformation that is going around on the issue”.
The minister, in the letter written to CNN, said the international platform left out a video which could have shown that “armed hoodlums invaded the Lekki Toll Gate that night, and could have hit any of the protesters as they shot sporadically”.
“This is a ploy by the CNN reporter/presenter to manipulate viewers of its ‘investigative’ report and force them to draw the reporter’s desired conclusion,” the minister had written.
In a statement on Tuesday, the CNN counsel said the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters report had vindicated the organization’s investigative report, titled, ‘How a bloody night of bullets and brutality quashed a young protest movement’.
“Alhaji Lai Mohammed should eschew his pride and apologize to the CNN if he has any integrity left,” Babalola said.
He added, “He has consistently claimed that the CNN’s report of the massacre was false, but the panel has vindicated the CNN’s position on the gruesome and wanton killings at the Lekki Tollgate.
“Without necessarily saying more on this, since the same minister had earlier called on the CNN to apologize for fake news, which has now been quasi-judicially proved to be true, one would think the honorable thing for Alhaji Mohammed to do, as an elder statesman and learned gentleman, is to apologize to the CNN especially.
“However, as we continue to wait on the minister and the Federal Government’s next move, I sympathize with families of all the victims of the Lekki massacre, while we pray for the souls of the departed and hope the government implements the report in full.”
“In the light of the report by the judicial panel, Mohammed ought to eat the humble pie and apologize to the CNN."