#EndSARS: CSO flays CNN on Lekki protest report
The Coalition of Civil Society For Human Rights and Good Governance Africa, has condemned in its entirety a report by the Cable News Network (CNN) alleging massacre of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos, on October 20, 2020.
In a strongly-worded statement, released in Abuja, the Coalition described the report as fake, repulsive and a concocted piece of deliberate falsehood by an otherwise reputable international cable network.
The group, in the statement jointly signed by Prof Bankole Amuda, Prof Uzodima Anakwe, Balarabe Hassan Ningi, and Barr (Mrs.) Grace Osaze, corroborated the position of the Nigerian Army to the effect that, no protester was killed on the said day, as only blank ammunition were used by soldiers to restore normalcy.
According to the coalition, its position was based on thorough investigations conducted by a crack team of independent forensic experts.
While warning CNN and its co-travellers against deliberate attempts to undermine Nigeria’s sovereignty, the rights and good governance organisation called on the federal government to remain firm and apply the full weight of the law against local and foreign saboteurs.
Specifically, the coalition took exceptions to the fact that CNN placed heavy reliance on the same videos that have since been confirmed to be fake, to arrive at its jaundiced and premeditated outcome.
Wondering what was the motive behind the fake report, the CSO expressed confidence that Nigerians of good conscience will see the report for what it is: fake news.
It has, however, applauded the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, for the way and manner he conveyed the position of the federal goveenment, at a world press conference in Abuja, Thursday.
Notwithstanding, the group has called on members of the public with genuine cases of rights’ violation, to approach ongoing judicial commissions of injuiry set up by the federal and state governments, to address such concerns.
It contended that Nigeria remained a sovereign and independent nation, which is governed by established institutions, rule of law, hence the need for aggrieved persons and groups to follow the due process in ventilating their grievances.
“We condemn the CNN and all their evil collaborators for the fake report of alleged massacre at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020, as nothing can be further from the truth.
“We are of the firm view that the CNN only relied on fake videos posted on the internet by enemies of the state, to draw conclusion of a massacre, that only exists, or existed in their fertile mind and that of its collaborators – local and international.
“We recognise the right of CNN to carry out exclusive investigative activities around the world, in a bid to expose corruption, human rights violation and other ills perpetrated by govetnments or groups/individuals, as the case may be.
“In the face of this, however, we hasten to warn against attempts to package falsehood in the guise of truth, to satisfy pre-conceived agenda to destroy Nigeria.
“May we warn CNN and the like, that Nigeria is not a banana republic, where cases of provocation and incitement against a constitutional government will be allowed or tolerated.”
The statement continued: “As a responsible group, we have been following proceedings at the Lagos State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, and we can say authoritatively, that no family has yet to come forward with evidence of death of loved ones.
“We are, therefore, at a loss as to CNN’s obsession with ‘massacre’, even when respectable authorities like the military etc, have come out to say the contrary.
“We maintain that the Nigerian Army, and the Military, remains one of the best in global equation, with professionally trained personnel, who do not compromise the rules of engagement in whatever operations they embark on.
“We understand that massacre, a very heinous crime, involves the deliberate killing of many people at a given time.
“Against that gory description, we wonder how soldiers, who are Nigerians with families across the country, will set out to ‘slaughter’ its fellow brothers and sisters.
“We call on patriotic Nigerians and the international community to disregard the CNN’s report in its entirety, while supporting ongoing efforts by government to sustain the momentum of growth and development being witnessed in the country, notwithstanding the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic Nigeria belong to Nigeria’s and can only build to our expectation by Nigeria’s and not any other country, hence we must not allow any external interest destroy our country.
“We trust that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government will resist all forms of intimidation against the Nigerian State, regardless of where such emanates from.
“In the fullness of time, all individuals and groups seeking to undermine the federal Republic of Nigeria, will be exposed, and we pray that posterity will not let them go without accounting for their deeds.
“Lastly, we are comforted by the fact that, no matter how far falsehood travels, it is eventually caught up with, and overtaken by truth.
“We urge the CNN to focus on the so many rights violations in the America. Their report in the Lekki saga has confirmed to us what President Donald Trump has consistently brand them,” as a medium that flies only fake news.
“We call on all Nigerians to ignore them and their conspirators. Let’s join hands together to build the Nigeria of our dream. Nigeria is our only home and only us can build it to an enviable height.”