The protest had, last month, degenerated into violence after hoodlums hijacked it.
In the aftermath of the protest, various accounts emerged on what happened when Nigerian soldiers opened fire at the scene of the protest. The recent account is the feature currently on CNN, where the news station says its investigation has confirmed soldiers fired directly at protesters.
But speaking at a media parley in Abuja, yesterday, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, claimed CNN aired false information.
The minister also took swipes at popular Disc Jockey, Switch, whose real name is Obianunu Catherine Udeh, for claiming that many protesters were killed by troops.
EndSARS protest, which shook the country for two weeks, was aimed at ending police brutality and disbanding Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
While explaining the role of fake news and disinformation in the protest, Mohammed observed that what started as a peaceful protest against police brutality degenerated into violence despite an immediate response to the demands.
He accused the organisers of leveraging the social media for mass mobilisation, the spread of fake news, and disinformation that resulted in the violence witnessed across the country.
THE minister said the CNN report reinforced disinformation going around, dismissing it as blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organisation.
He accused CNN of engaging in incredible sensationalism and doing a great disservice to itself and journalism.
“This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that. CNN merely said the videos were ‘’obtained by CNN’’, without saying wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them.
“Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening? If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting? Relying on second or third-hand information and presenting it as ‘’CNN Investigation’’? Why didn’t CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Brig.-Gen Taiwo before the judicial panel in Lagos? Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organisation or any serious news organisation? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis,” Mohammed said.
He also described the CNN report as jaundiced and accused the news medium of choosing to be blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks.
Mohammed advised DJ Switch to quit peddling falsehood and present her case, with verifiable evidence, to the judicial panel sitting in Lagos.
He debunked insinuations that the government had declared her wanted, saying she had no reason to flee or seek asylum anywhere.