By Olajide Meseko
A Nigerian counsel for the Cable News Network, Olumide Babalola, has asked the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to tender an apology to the medium for tagging as fake an investigative report by the American media house.
The lawyer, in a statement on Tuesday, said the panel’s report had vindicated the CNN’s investigative report, titled, ‘How a bloody night of bullets and brutality quashed a young protest movement’.
Babalola recalled that the minister had railed at the CNN over the report, which he tagged ‘fake news’ and threatened sanction against the media house.
The lawyer, however, said in the light of the report by the judicial panel, Mohammed ought to eat the humble pie and apologise to the CNN.
The lawyer said, “Alhaji Mohammed had consistently claimed that the CNN’s report of massacre was false, but the panel has vindicated the CNN’s position on the gruesome and wanton killings at the Lekki tollgate.
“Without necessarily saying more on this, since the same minister had earlier called on the CNN to apologise for fake news, which has now been quasi-judicially proved to be true, one would think the honourable thing for Alhaji Mohammed to do, as an elder statesman and learned gentleman, is to apologise to the CNN especially.
“However, as we continue to wait on the minister and the Federal Government’s next move, I sympathise with families of all the victims of Lekki massacre, while we pray for the souls of the departed and hope the government implements the report in full.”
HURIWA wants Lai Mohammed sacked
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria also called for the dismissal, arrest and trial of Mohammed for alleged falsehood as to what transpired at the Lekki tollgate.
The statement read, “As there has emerged undisputed evidence that indeed there was systematic annihilation of many civilian protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State last year October, we are asking President Buhari as a father of all to order the arrest and prosecution of his Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, for committing a grave and heartless offence that is equivalent to the denial of the Holocaust of the six million Jews by Adolf Hitler, which is punishable by nearly half a century of incarceration.”
Mohammed, who had consistently described the Lekki incident as a “massacre without bodies,” neither responded to calls nor a text message on Tuesday.
However, a top government official faulted the unauthorised release of the report even as he stated that it was riddled with half truths and inaccuracies.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the leaking of the report was a slap on the face of the Lagos State Government, which set up the panel.
“The Lagos State Government is not happy about the unauthorised release of the report. The standard procedure is for the government to scrutinise the report and then issue a White Paper. There are several errors in that report,” the official said.
The official stated that the government never said that persons were not killed, but only argued that no killing occurred at the tollgate on the night of the incident.
The government official said about out five inaccuracies in the report had been spotted so far.