American news media outfit CNN has doubled down on their investigation of the #EndSARS protest Lekki tollgate shooting, amid threats of sanction from the Federal Government over its investigative report on the incident.
The CNN had earlier released a damning video proof that the Lekki massacre did happen and that the army used live rounds on the peaceful protesters.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had last week described CNN’s report on the Lekki shootings as ‘poor journalism,’ adding that the federal government is deliberating on sanctioning the US media outfit.
The threat was followed up by Mohammed with a letter addressed to the management of CNN in Atlanta.
Amidst the back-and-forth, the network on Tuesday did a second report with more damning footage showing soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters on October 20, 2020.
The fresh report also shows the Commander, 81 Division, Brig.Gen Ahmed Taiwo, admitting before the judicial panel in Lagos that his men indeed took live ammunition to the tollgate, which contradicts that of Lai Mohammed, who had claimed the army fired blank bullets.
“The soldiers they were both given both live and blank bullets. In this particular case, we saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums,” Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo said in his testimony to the Lagos Judicial panel of inquiry into the incident.
“You had peaceful protesters no doubt. But there were also hoodlums who sought to take advantage. That is why they were armed (with) blank bullets in addition to the live (bullets) they were carrying.”
This would be the first time the Nigerian army has admitted having live rounds at the Lekki toll gate.
The army statement also contradicts previous statements about the incident including from Taiwo himself who told the judicial panel previously that the soldiers were firing in the air and firing blank ammunition, CNN reports.
It should be noted that, in the aftermath of the shooting, the Nigerian army denied any involvement, describing reports of the incident as “fake news,” before backtracking and saying that soldiers were present but fired their weapons in the air and used blanks, not live rounds.
The CNN investigation included evidence that bullet casings from the scene matched those used by the Nigerian army when shooting live rounds, according to current and former Nigerian military officials.
Two ballistics experts also confirmed with CNN that the shape of the bullet casings indicate they used live rounds.
From the fresh report CNN released, protesters could be seen running as soldiers opened fire at the tollgate.
The National Broadcasting Commission, which is overseen by the information minister, had last month slammed hefty fines on three Nigerian television stations for daring to use some of the footage which CNN has also used.
It is now apparent that the Nigerian TV stations have been systemically gagged by the federal government, as there have been wary of presenting evidence they gathered at the Lekki tollgate due to the government’s dictatorial style of rulership.
National media outfits like Channels TV and NTA have been called out by some Nigerian who laid hands on the evidence they are currently unwilling to share.
While the Nigerian Government continues to stumble and release contradicting statements, the US and UK parliaments are closely following the issue and are considering sanctioning the Nigerian Government and army.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: CNN | News Agencies