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CNN: Our report carefully, meticulously researched

Cable News Network (CNN) has responded to threat of sanction by the Federal Government of Nigeria over its report on the shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20.

The American news network stated that the report was “carefully and meticulously researched.” Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had yesterday berated the news platform for practising what it termed “irresponsible journalism” by relying on “fake videos sourced from social media” to produce its report. “CNN relied heavily on unreliable and possibly doctored videos as well as information from questionable sources to reach these conclusions,” the minister had said.

But, the news network countered the minister. CNN said Mohammed failed to provide any evidence the videos were doctored. CNN stands by its investigation, a company spokesperson said. “Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched and we stand by it,” the spokesperson said via email. The report, according to CNN, was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses and photos and video obtained and geolocated.

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 on-going investigation. While a statement from Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway.” CNN stated that in its report, it included comments from army representative, Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo, testifying before the tribunal, wherein he denied that soldiers would shoot at Nigerian citizens.

The investigation was broadcast and published on Wednesday and cast doubt on Nigerian authorities’ shifting and changing statements over what happened during the protest at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos. The CNN report included evidence that bullet casings from the scene matched those used by the Nigerian Army when shooting live rounds, according to current and former Nigerian military officials. Two ballistics experts also confirmed with CNN that the shape of the bullet casings indicate they used live rounds, which contradicts the army’s claim they fired blanks.

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