FG fires back at CNN, seeks sanction over Lekki shooting report
The Federal Government has condemned Wednesday’s report by the CNN, which claimed there was a strong evidence of soldiers using live bullets that killed some unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos on October 20.
The government who described the report by the international news organisation as “irresponsible journalism” added that the CNN deserved to be sanctioned for going to town with an unverified report.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, gave the FG’s position on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja.
He said the report was “a poor piece of journalistic work from a reputable international new organisation” which did a disservice to the news medium.
The minister said CNN merely relied on social media videos without verification to produce its report, adding that “unscrupulous persons” including celebrities had circulated fake news on the social media which was used for the latest report.
He considered the event of October 20, 2020 as a “massacre without bodies”, and challenged anyone with evidence of casualties to produce it.
Mohammed said, “Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going round, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization.
“CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism. In the first instance, CNN, which touted its report as an exclusive investigative report, sadly relied on the same videos that have been circulating on social media, without verification.
“This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that. CNN merely said the videos were “obtained by CNN”, without saying wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them. Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki tollgate that evening?”
He also wondered why CNN did not balance its story by showing the testimony of Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Taiwo before the judicial panel in Lagos.
He said, “Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organisation or any serious news organisation? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis.”
The minister also said, “In airing its so-called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on October 23rd 2020, it tweeted, from its verified Twitter handle that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, October 20th 2020. Less than a month later, the same CNN, in what it called an exclusive report based on a rehash of old, unverified videos, was only able to confirm that one person died in the same incident.
“In its jaundiced reporting, CNN was blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks.”
He said CNN did not consider the security agents human enough for its report.
“CNN, in its ‘investigation’, was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country. Also, CNN was blind to the burning of police stations and vehicles all over the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages, in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki tollgate,” he said.
The minister said the FG stood by its story that military personnel were at Lekki tollgate but only fired into the air and no live ammunition was used.
“We insist that the military did not shoot at protesters at Lekki tollgate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Again, anyone who knows anyone who was killed at Lekki tollgate should head to the judicial panel with conclusive evidence of such,” he said.
Lagos #EndSARS panel awards N10m to Kolade Johnson’s family
The Lagos judicial panel has awarded the sum of N10 million to the family of late Kolade Johnson.
Johnson was shot during a raid by police officers at Onipetesi area in Lagos, while watching an English premiership match between Tottenham and Manchester United on March 31, 2019.
The incident sparked outrage on social media, after which the police authorities identified Ogunyemi Olalekan, a police inspector, and Godwin Orji, a sergeant, as the officers involved in the shooting.
Following an orderly trial, Olalekan was dismissed from the force after he was found guilty, while Orji was acquitted.
Doris Okuwobi, chairman of the Lagos panel, announced the compensation at the sitting on Friday.
The award sum was received by the mother of the deceased.
Thirteen petitioners — including Johnson’s family — were compensated with a total of N83 million at the sitting on Friday.
Panel fines police N16m for killing teenager in Bayelsa
The Bayelsa State Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality and Other Related Matters has in a ruling on a petition awarded N16m against the police for extrajudicial killing of a teenager, late Innocent Kokorifa, in Yenagoa.
Innocent, who was 17 when he was shot dead by a trigger-happy officer in August 2016, was the son of Mr Daniel Kokorifa, a Federal Road Safety Corps official attached to the Rivers State Command.
Kokorifa, who is a native of Okpotuwari in the Southern Ijaw, Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, had in his petition numbered BYS/JPI/012/2020 prayed the panel to also consider the sum of N6m incurred since the brutal murder of his son.
The chairman of the panel, retired Justice Young Ogola, in the ruling awarded Kokorifa the sum of N16m in temporary compensation.
In another ruling, the panel also ordered the release of the corpse of another teenager, Emmanuel Victor, who was brutally killed by a policeman in 2011 in Yenagoa.
The panel further awarded the sum of N5m to the mother of the deceased 17-year-old, Grace Victor, for proper and decent burial of her son even though the culpable officer had been prosecuted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Ogola remarked that “there is no compensation for what was pronounced as vicarious liability or so; nothing that the policeman, who committed the crime, has already been sentenced to death.”
Similarly, the panel delivered judgments on over 13 petitions it received and awarded over N40m to the various petitioners in damages.
Trump acquitted in impeachment trial; 7 Republican senators vote with Democrats
The US Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection despite significant Republican support for conviction, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in the country’s history and the second for Trump.
Seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress.
That is by far the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history. The final vote was 57 to 43, 10 short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.
Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty.
The vote means the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.
Moments after the vote concluded, the former president issued a statement praising his legal team and thanking the senators and other members of Congress “who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”
“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it,” Trump said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the vote “the largest and most bipartisan vote in any impeachment trial in history,” but noted it wasn’t enough to secure a conviction.
The trial “was about choosing country over Donald Trump, and 43 Republican members chose Trump. They chose Trump. It should be a weight on their conscience today, and it shall be a weight on their conscience in the future,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor.
With control of the Senate split 50-50, the House managers always had an uphill battle when it came to convincing enough Republicans to cross party lines and convict a former president who is still very popular with a large part of the GOP base.
In his closing argument, House manager Joe Neguse, D-Colo, argued, “The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.”
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., urged the senators to think of the future.
“Senators, this trial, in the final analysis, is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are,” Raskin said.
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen, meanwhile, insisted his client did nothing wrong and maintained he was the victim of vengeful Democrats and a biased news media. He called the impeachment proceedings a “charade from beginning to end.”
The managers’ task became more difficult Saturday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in an email to his colleagues that he would vote to acquit since Trump was already out of office.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” the influential Kentucky Republican wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News.
McConnell, who’d rebuffed Democratic efforts to start the trial while Trump was still in office, had condemned Trump’s conduct after the riot and said he’d keep an open mind about voting to convict — something he’d ruled out entirely during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.
After voting to acquit, McConnell blasted Trump for his “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and squarely laid the blame for the riot at Trump’s door in what amounted to an endorsement of many of the arguments laid out by House impeachment managers in a speech on the Senate floor.
“There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said.
McConnell had suggested in the email earlier in the day that Trump could still face other penalties.
“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” he wrote.
Opening arguments began on Wednesday, with House managers blaming the riot on Trump’s months-long campaign to cast doubt on the 2020 election, and his repeated assertions that the only way he would lose was if the election was “stolen.”
They focused on his fiery speech on the morning of the Jan. 6 riot, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” — and his refusal to take action after they did.
Trump declined a request from managers to testify at the trial, and refused to even submit a statement for it, facts Raskin urged senators to keep in mind on Saturday.
“I ask any of you, if you were charged with inciting violent insurrection against our country, and you’re falsely accused, would you come and testify? I know I would,” Raskin said.
The trial was the fourth of an impeached president. No president has ever been convicted.
– NBC News
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