…Berates CNN over leaked Lekki Toll Gate report
The Federal Government has reiterated its position that there was no massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20, 2020.
It equally challenged families of those allegedly killed during the incident to speak out.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the government’s position at a media briefing on Tuesday in Abuja.
He was reacting to a report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution which investigated cases of police brutality and the toll gate incident.
He said the report was fake and unreliable.
“The report in circulation is calculated to embarrass the Federal Government and its agencies without fool proof evidence,’’ the minister stressed.
“The Federal Government has never condoned the abuse of the rights of Nigerians by security agencies under any guise.
“As a result, it disbanded SARS and encouraged states to set up the panels to investigate reports of rights abuses allegedly committed by the disbanded SARS personnel,’’ he added.
Alhaji Mohammed noted that the 37 policemen and six soldiers who died across the country during the #EndSARS protests were also Nigerians and should not be forgotten.
“We are saddened that anyone died at all during the #EndSARS protest as the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human is sacrosanct.
“As we have disclosed many times, 57 civilians, 37 policemen and six soldiers were killed across the country during the protests, and we commiserate with their families.
“For us to change our stand, a well-investigated report of the incident that meets all required standards and can withstand every scrutiny must be produced and presented to the public,’’ the minister said.
Alhaji Mohammed insisted that there was no massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate, contrary to the report which claimed that nine people were killed.
He stressed that there was nothing in the report in circulation to make government to change its stand that there was no massacre at Lekki on Oct. 20 2020.
The minister noted that the report was silent on the family members of those reportedly killed; merely insinuating they were afraid to testify.
“Even goats have owners who will look for them if they do not return home, not to talk of human beings.
“Where are the family members of those who were reportedly killed at Lekki Toll Gate?
“If the panel is recommending compensation for the families, what are their identities and addresses? Who will receive the compensations when no family members have shown up to date?
“We also appeal to the families of those allegedly killed in Lekki to speak out. It is untenable to say that some families did not come out because they were afraid.
“Any parent who is afraid to testify about the death of his or her child is not worthy to be called a parent,’’ the minister stressed.
Alhaji Mohammed further queried the report and asked how a man who reportedly saw the lifeless body of his brother ended up being on the list of the panel’s deceased persons.
“How can a judicial panel convince anyone that the names of some `casualties’ of the Lekki Toll Gate incident listed as numbers 3 (Jide), 42 (Tola) and 43 (Wisdom) are not fictitious names?
Why did the judicial panel feel compelled to concoct a ‘massacre-in-context’ as euphemism for ‘massacre’? A massacre is a massacre. What is ‘massacre-in-context’’? he queried.
The minister noted that the report by the panel also threw away the testimony of ballistic experts that testified before it.
The experts, according to the minister, told the panel that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at the protesters at Lekki Tollgate on Oct. 20, 2020 within the timeframe of reference.
Alhaji Mohammed reiterated that the Federal Government rejected the notion that soldiers and policemen massacred innocent Nigerians at Lekki on Oct. 20, 2020.
“That conclusion is not supported by the weight of available evidence. Indictment for murder is a very serious issue that cannot be done on the basis of allegations and corroborations, as the panel did.
“Such allegations must be proved beyond reasonable doubt,’’ the minister said.
Alhaji Mohammed advised those who had prematurely celebrated the report in circulation to go back and read it thoroughly and tell Nigerians whether it could pass any serious scrutiny.
Mohammed also berated the Cable News Network (CNN) for prematurely celebrating a leaked report of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the Oct. 20, 2020 Lekki Toll Gate incidence in Lagos, accusing the news outfit of being in a rush to vindication.
The minister who disclosed the Federal Government position on the report said “it is fake, riddled with so many errors and cannot be relied upon because its authenticity is in doubt.
“CNN apparently didn’t even read the report before rolling out the drums in celebration.
“By that action, CNN has celebrated prematurely and has now committed a double faux pas: first, by relying on unverified social media stories and videos to carry out an investigation of the Oct. 20 2020 incident at Lekki, where it did not have a correspondent on ground.
“CNN goofed in its report on the findings of the panel, which fell below the main standards of journalism.
“Secondly, CNN rushed to the air to celebrate an unsigned and unverified report that is riddled with inconsistencies, errors, discrepancies and innuendoes.
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