CNN’s investigation focuses on a demonstration against police brutality led by the predominantly peaceful #EndSARS movement.
Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed dismissed CNN’s investigation as “fake news” and “misinformation,” repeatedly denying the military used live tours against protesters.
“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I have to tell you that it reinforces the misinformation that is happening and is frankly irresponsible and bad journalistic work by a reputable international news organization,” he told reporters at a news conference in Abuja. in the federal government’s most significant response to the Oct. 20 violence to date.
CNN supports its investigation, a company spokesman said.
“Our reporting has been carefully and thoroughly researched and we support it,” the spokesman said by email.
The report is based on the testimony of dozens of witnesses and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN. He paints a picture of members of the Nigerian army and police firing on the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more.
CNN checked photos and videos obtained by numerous eyewitnesses and protesters using time stamps and other data from the video files. Video footage shows soldiers seemingly firing in the direction of the protesters. And eyewitness accounts show that after the withdrawal of the army, a second round of gunfire took place later in the evening.
Before publishing the report, CNN tried several times to get a comment from the Nigerian army and police. A Lagos state police spokesman declined to comment due to an ongoing investigation. While a statement from the Lagos state government said there would be no comment while a court tribunal is ongoing.
CNN also included comments from Army spokesman Brigadier Ahmed Taiwo, who testified before the tribunal. He denied that the soldiers had shot at Nigerian citizens.
The investigation was broadcast and published on Wednesday and questioned the change and alteration of Nigerian authorities’ statements about what happened during the protest at Leki taxi station in Lagos.
Addressing reporters, Mohammed insisted that “the military did not shoot at the protesters in front of the taxi door” but fired empty munitions into the air, blaming looters for the violence that erupted on the night of October 20.
“Six soldiers and 37 police officers were killed across the country during the crisis,” Mohammed said.
“CNN relied heavily on unreliable and potentially documented videos, as well as sources of information from questionable sources, to reach these conclusions,” he continued.
He did not provide any evidence that the videos were doctoral.
The CNN report includes evidence that the shell casings at the scene matched those used by the Nigerian military in live shooting, according to current and former Nigerian military personnel.
Two ballistics experts also confirmed to CNN that the shape of the shell casings showed that they had used live cartridges, which contradicted the army’s claim that they had fired blanks.
While the Minister of Information and Culture claims that “no family” reported the deaths of relatives during the October 20 protest, the Lagos Chief Investigator has since issued a public call for all those who have “lost loved ones between 19 and 27 October 2020 ”to come out and provide evidence that could help in the“ exercise of identity ”.
During a press briefing Thursday, the minister denied reports of deaths in the protest.
“As I said earlier, what began as a peaceful protest against police brutality quickly turned into incredible violence despite the immediate response to government demands,” he said.
“While we expect the Judicial College in Lagos to reveal what happened at Leki’s taxi door, what we can say based on evidence available in the public domain is that the world may have witnessed for the first time, a massacre without bodies, “he added.
According to Mohamed, the National Economic Council (NIS) led the “immediate establishment” of a state judicial commission of inquiry on October 15th – before the Leki toll incident but after protests against the violence – to investigate complaints of police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
Eyewitnesses have since told CNN that the government’s comments were “lies”, making them feel as if they were “hallucinating the whole event”.
“Haven’t they hurt us enough? I still close my eyes and see the blood and hear the screams,” said another eyewitness.
During the press conference, Mohammed said the federal government continued to be “very pleased” with the role played by security agencies – especially the military and police – through the protests.
CNN’s Stephanie Busari, Nima Elbagar, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Katie Polglaze contributed to the report.