A policy group in Nigeria has demanded that American television station, Cable News Network (CNN) apologises to Nigerians for its unprofessional and sensationalized reporting on the Lekki shooting during the EndSARS protest in Lagos.
The Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD) said CNN’s exaggerated reporting played no small role in misleading Nigerians and people around the world about what really happened in Lekki.
In a statement signed by ISD President, James Sunday Akinloye, the group said CNN’s reporting did not contain any real investigation rather it was laced with inaccurate and incorrect reporting, hence the reason it tried to clarify itself via Twitter on 26 November.
ISD noted that the CNN in a tweet on 26 November, 2020 tried clarifying an October 23 tweet where it exaggerated the number of people that were killed in the Lekki incident. The tweet by the CNN on 23 October reads, “At least 38 people were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters,” CNN Africa tweeted.
The tweet has been shared more than 16,000 times as at the time of this reporting.
The group said the deliberate falsehood by the CNN has had untold effect on the country. “For CNN to wait for over a month before issuing a clarification shows how irresponsible this globally respected news outlet has become. They contributed to the destruction and vandalisation that followed the EndSARS protests because many people fed on their fake news.
“The fake news was not only restricted to their followers on Twitter but it was shared widely on WhatsApp groups stoking fear and inciting unsuspecting Nigerians towards violence. This kind of journalism is condemnable and unfortunate, ISD said.
The group said even worse is the said clarification by CNN on 26 November. “For a respectable news organisation like CNN to think that it’s brief clarification is enough is very disturbing. Does this clarification undo all the damage CNN has caused? Does it undo the all destruction and losses incurred across Nigeria,” the group quizzed.
The group noted that even an apology from CNN is not enough at this point as the fake tweet on October 23 led to the killing of police officers and destruction of police stations and formations across the country.
“Some citizens saw the fake news by CNN and were angered that 38 protesters were gunned down by soldiers at Lekki. In retaliation, they began to burn and destroy public properties including BRT buses, NPA headquarters, TVC, The Nation newspaper, Access Bank, etc.”
The group said for CNN to think that a clarification was all that was needed shows how insensitive and cruel the television station is.
“They took Nigerians for a ride, they peddled fake news and they think they can get away with it but not this time, they must pay for their actions.
The group also called for CNN and their correspondent, Nima Elbagir to be sanctioned. “The report by Nima shows that there was a concerted effort by CNN to see Nigeria burn. In their supposed investigative reporting they could not establish that 38 people died, they could not show us the dead, yet they continued with their lies.
The group urged Nigerians to be calm and to always restrain from acting on information even from international television stations like the CNN. “The truth will come out in the end. This matter has only just begun. We encourage our fellow citizens to refrain from acting violently on news they read on social media or even on television.