(UPDATE) Lai Mohammed dismisses Lagos #EndSARS report as fake news
The Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, dismissed the report of the Lagos state body, which investigated the alleged massacre of peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate during the #EndSARS agitations, as fake news.
The Judicial Investigative and Restitution Commission to Investigate Police Brutality Cases and the October 2020 Incident recently released its report to Babajide Sanwo-Olu State Governor, which was leaked to the media.
At a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the minister said the report was a repetition of fake news that was already circulating.
Mohammed claimed that instead of sitting for a year, the panel should have simply compiled and terminated social media reports.
The Minister of Information claimed that the report was marked by inconsistencies, allusions, inconsistencies and errors.
He wondered what the panel meant by its conclusion of “massacre in context” and stated that it could only be a “phantom massacre”.
The Minister noted that the report makes no recommendations for innocent victims killed in Lagos and that they cannot be relied on.
Reading from a prepared text, he said: “It is no longer news that the Lagos State Judicial Committee, which has investigated cases of police brutality and the October 20, 2020 incident at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, has submitted its report.
“The submission was made while I was on a foreign assignment. Unlike many commentators and analysts, we took the time to read and process the report and are now well placed to act on it.
“Let me say straight out that never in the history of any judicial committee in this country has its report been riddled with so many errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, speculations, innuendos, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence.
“What is circulating in public space is simply a repetition of the unchecked fake news that has been played on social media since the October 20, 2020 incident. It’s just incredible that a judicial body set up to investigate an incident came up with a report. ”Loaded with allegations, the same allegations it should investigate in the first instance.
“Instead of sitting for a full year, the panel could have simply compiled and submitted social media ‘moonlight stories’ about the incident to save taxpayers money and everyone’s time.
“This report is nothing more than the triumph of fake news and the intimidation of a silent majority by a loud lynch mob.”
Pointing to the alleged problems in the reports, the minister went on to state: “The report never mentioned cases of brutally murdered police personnel or the massive destruction of police stations, vehicles, etc. during the # Endsars protest.
“Does that mean the panel did not consider cops and women as human beings?
“The report made no recommendation on the innocent people whose businesses were attacked and destroyed during the protest in Lagos. I think it was too busy looking for evidence to support its “massacre in context” conclusion.
“From the current one it is clear that one cannot rely on the report of the panel that is in circulation because its authenticity is doubtful. In addition, the government of the state of Lagos,
as the convening authority has not yet published an official report to the public. The panel did not do this either.
“Cowardly giving an unsigned report to the public is not enough. Assuming that the report in circulation bears some iota of authenticity, it is basic knowledge that the report of such a body is not valid until the convening authority issues a white paper and an official gazette on it. It is therefore too premature for a person or institution to scourge the federal government and its departments or officials on the basis of such an unofficial and unvalidated report. “
The minister also smeared CNN and part of the Nigerian media in handling the report.
According to him: “In its rush to claim its justification, CNN apparently didn’t even read the report before rolling out the drums in celebration. With this action, CNN celebrated prematurely and now committed a double faux pas: First, by relying on unchecked social media stories and videos to conduct an investigation into the October 20, 2020 incident at Lekki, for which there is no correspondent had the floor. CNN screwed up in its report on the panel’s results, which fell below the main standards of journalism.
Second, CNN rushed into the air to celebrate an unsigned and unverified report that is full of inconsistencies, errors, discrepancies and innuendos. This is a double faux pas of a news organization eager and ready to compromise the standards just to claim their justification.
“Unfortunately, part of the Nigerian media has also joined the lynch mob. In all fairness, they have done themselves a great disservice in trying to vilify the government at all costs. How can a well-worthy news organization write an editorial validating this type of report? Don’t they see what others, including journalists and lawyers, see?
In a shocking twist, a Nigerian newspaper decided to welcome a “detailed investigation report” from CNN, even if the news channel didn’t even cover the October 20, 2020 incident. It’s a classic case of cutting your nose despite your face. “
He claimed that there had been no massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate and that the federal government had therefore not changed its stance on the matter.
He added: “Gentlemen, there is absolutely nothing in the report that leads us to change our position that there was no massacre in Lekki on October 20, 2020.
“In order for us to be able to change our status, a well-researched report of the incident must be prepared and presented to the public, which meets all the required standards and stands up to any scrutiny.
“The report that is in circulation does not meet these requirements. We also appeal to the families of those allegedly killed in Lekki to speak up. It is untenable to say that some families did not come out out of fear. Any parent who is afraid to testify about their child’s death is not worth calling a parent.
“We reject the idea that our soldiers and police officers massacred innocent Nigerians in Lekki on October 20, 2020. The weight of the evidence available does not support this conclusion. The murder charge is a very serious subject that cannot be made on the basis of allegations and affirmations, as the panel did.
“Such allegations must be proven beyond doubt. The report, which is now in circulation, is intended to embarrass the federal government and its agencies without foolproof evidence.
“The federal government did not condone the abuse of Nigerian rights by security agencies under any guise, so it has disbanded SARS and encouraged states to set up bodies to investigate reports of human rights violations allegedly committed by disbanded SARS workers.
“The 37 police officers and six soldiers who died across the country during the #endsars protest are also Nigerians and should not be forgotten.
“Those who prematurely celebrated the circulating report should read it carefully now and tell Nigerians whether it stands up to serious scrutiny.
“We are sad that someone died during the #endsars protest because the life of every Nigerian and indeed every human being is sacrosanct. As we have announced several times, protests across the country killed 57 civilians, 37 police officers and six soldiers, and we apologize for their families. “
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