The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has described the CNN report on the October 20 Lekki shooting as “a brilliant piece of gutter journalism, unprofessional, skewed, and set to a pre-determined but evil end”.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group said the American news network had a single-minded mission to paint the Nigerian authorities bad in that report.
“Having watched the so-called investigative report on the October 20 incident at the Lekki toll plaza, we cannot but come to the conclusion that CNN had no intention to present an unbiased report to its global audience.
“This perhaps explains why it was a one-sided feature report that failed to take into account either the side of the army which was accused of using live rounds or the government which it surreptitiously blamed for allegedly killing protesters.
“Just like many Nigerians have observed, CNN had no reporter on ground at the toll plaza on the day but relied heavily on the same viral videos that have been circulating on social media; and to worsen its case CNN interviewed only those who claimed to be “eyewitnesses”.
“We also find it strange that though the news outlet alluded to the ongoing judicial panel in passing, it did not consider it important to report the presentation by the army authorities on the use of blank bullets or the explanation on what would have happened if soldiers had indeed used live rounds on the crowd of protesters.
“This is sheer malafide, malice aforethought and despicable gutter journalism”, the group said, noting that there are enough indices to show that CNN relied on fake news in a bid to prove that soldiers shot at protesters at the toll plaza.
“Even before the controversial piece, the news outlet had on October 23 emphatically tweeted that ’38 were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters’ without any evidence, and this was three days after the alleged shooting.
“There was no sign that CNN apologized for this disinformation or deleted it, before it proceeded to put together the so-called investigative piece which was meant to sustain the lie that live rounds were fired on the crowd but, rather left more gaps in its narrative.
“We invite Nigerians to note that two independent fact-checking sites,’aledeh.com
‘ and ‘PRNigeria’ have been conducting integrity tests on some of the claims in the CNN report and have raised vital issues on the CNN fake news.
“Some of the posers raised by aledeh.com
which we align with include ‘why people who claimed that bullets went through their stomachs and came out through their backs are not in ICU but are hale and hearty, and are able to speak coherently to a reporter? We also wonder why the two people interviewed, who claimed to have lost members of their families have not approached the judicial panel set up by the Lagos State Government on the matter.
“The answers may be found in a report put together by PRNigeria in the aftermath of the Lekki incident which showed that a large chunk of what was circulated was fake news. Its Fact Checking system specifically showed that 69% of the fake news were shared between October 20 and November 5.
‘So we agree with the two fact-checkers that there are enough grounds to show that the CNN report was largely anchored on fake news which we believe was designed towards a pre-determined position”.
The group urged Nigerians to take the CNN report on the Lekki incident with a pinch of salt and await the outcome of the judicial panel on the matter.