The Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a press conference today, Thursday, 19 Nov. 2020 addressed the major controversial issues that have surrounded the #EndSARS protest and its aftermath.
The Minister affirmed that the federal Government is ‘responsible and is responsive to the demands of the #EndSARS protesters’.
The following are some of the most important points stated by the Minister.
THE MILITARY DIDN’T SHOOT AT ANY CITIZEN
The Federal Government insists that there was no ‘massacre’ or ‘mass killing’ of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza on October 20, 2020.
The Minister stated that not ‘a single body’ has been found and no family has come out to say they lost a member. Emphasizing that a Judicial Panel of Inquiry, has been set up in Lagos to investigate the incident, the minister called for members of the country who allege massacre at the Lekki Toll gate to present their evidences.
CNN TO BE SANCTIONED
The Federal Government has threatened to sanction Cable News Network, CNN for their investigative report on the alleged shooting of EndSARS protesters by soldiers in Lekki Toll Plaza, Lagos, on October, 20, 2020, released yesterday.
The Minister claims that CNN relied on the same unverified videos that have been circulated on the social media for their reports. He emphasized that the video which was used as a basis for their investigations were not authentic, thus the report is a result ‘irresponsible journalism’ and thus, CNN should be sanctioned. ‘CNN relied heavily on unverified and possibly doctored video, as well as, information sourced from questionable sources to this should earn CNN serious sanctions for irresponsible reporting’, he said.
‘Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the scene of the incident? The answer is No, so on what basis was the investigation done’, he added. He lamented that the report was not balance, as the CNN didn’t take into consideration the affirmations of the Nigerian Army before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
SOCIAL MEDIA REGULATION
Mohammed also stated that social media was used to spread fake and unverified news during the protest and to cause crises in the aftermath of the protest. ‘No responsible government will standby and watch some unscrupulous elements set the nation ablaze’.
He emphasized that the federal government has no plan to shut down the social media, contrary to widespread rumour, but ‘what the government as always agitated and will do is to regulate the social media’ to curb abuse.
DJ SWITCH IS A FRAUD
The Minister affirmed that Dj Switch was never declared suspect or wanted by the Nigerian police nor the Military. Therefore, she has no reason to leave the country or to “seek asylum anywhere”. ‘Dj Switch should quit spreading falsehood and present her case before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry’, he emphasized.
RIGHTS OF SECURITY AGENTS
The Federal Government is ‘very satisfied’ with the professionalism of Nigerian security officers all through the #EndSARS protest. He affirmed that the security officers are also human beings and should enjoy their fundamental human rights. He added that human rights organisations should put an end to ‘biased judgement’ and should take note of the fact the security officers were victims of the ‘senseless violence’. Mohammed stated that they ‘deserve commendation and not condemnation’.
NBC SANCTIONS ON MEDIA HOUSES IS JUSTIFIED
The Minister stated that the National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC imposing fines of N3m each on Channels TV, Arise TV, and Africa Independent Television, for the use of unverifiable online video footage on the social media during their coverage on the #EndSARS protests was justifiable. He stated that the dangerous trend of the media not verifying materials before using it in their reports must be curbed in the interest of media practitioners and the country. He stated that two of the media houses had paid their fines in full, while the last had paid in part. He affirmed that the action taken by the NBC is, ‘lenient’, as these media houses should have ‘faced more severe sanctions than mere fines’.