Recall that CNN had on Wednesday released its investigation which uncovered evidence that the Nigerian army and police opened fire on unarmed protestors on October 20.
CNN’s investigation focused on a demonstration against police brutality, led by the largely peaceful “#EndSARS” movement.
Minister for Information and Culture Lai Mohammed Thursday dismissed the CNN investigation as “fake news” and “misinformation,” repeatedly denying the military used live rounds against protesters.
“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,” he told reporters at a press conference in Abuja, in the most significant federal government response so far to the October 20 violence.
“This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that,” he said.
Reacting, a spokesperson for CNN said it stands by its investigation.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” the spokesperson said via email.
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.
CNN verified photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters using timestamps and other data from the video files. Video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters. And accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.
Prior to publishing the report, CNN tried multiple times to elicit comment from the Nigerian army and police. A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. While a statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway.