Nigeria’s government has said that its protest letter has unsettled international cable station CNN over its investigative report on the Lekki shootings.
Its Information and Culture Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed posited that the letter has left the station struggling to justify its inaccuracy.
Mohammed said broadcast stations must resist the temptation of using unverified materials.
He also warned against using unverified information from social media as they are fraught with dangers.
He also hinted two of the three local stations fined in the aftermath of the #ENDSARS violence have fully paid their fines while the third one paid partly and asked for time to pay the balance.
The Minister spoke on Friday in Abuja during a stakeholder meeting with members of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
He stressed the need for broadcast stations to adhere strictly to the gate-keeping tradition instead of rushing to use materials that are not authenticated.
According to him: “The use of unverified videos and the non-adherence to the basic tenets of journalism have combined to land
an international broadcaster, CNN, in trouble. This station has been caught in the web of fake news and disinformation, after it relied heavily on videos it took from social media for a supposed exclusive investigation on the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th.
“The station was also found to be inconsistent. After tweeting, without a shred of evidence, from its verified handle on Oct. 23rd that soldiers killed 38 peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th, the same station now said only one person was killed – after a month of its investigation. What an embarrassment!
“It is baffling that an organisation like CNN will rely on unauthenticated videos to carry out an investigation. More worrisome is that an international broadcaster like CNN will switch casualty figures so casually without a credible source.
“This is why we have written a letter to CNN asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its investigation. We have received an acknowledgement of our letter, saying the letter has been referred to CNN’s Editorial Team.
“CNN did not have a reporter or cameraman at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night in question, yet it emphatically reported a hoax story.
“Conversely, the BBC that had a reporter and an editor on the ground reported that soldiers shot into the air, not at protesters. I will rather believe the person on the ground than the one who is thousands of kilometres away.
“Since we sent our letter, CNN has been grasping at straws in desperation, to justify its inaccurate and unbalanced investigation.”
He added: “This is very unambiguous and CNN is exhibiting panic by seeking to clarify its tweet some 35 days later!
“Instead of engaging in such panic, CNN should come clean by admitting that it goofed badly on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.