CNN, though in Nigeria, is an international media organisation in the United States of America which operates via cable television on DSTV network and other platforms. The operations of CNN on world press coverage is not regulated by the National Broadcasting Commission. NBC or the Minister of Information has no such powers to sanction an organisation that is not under its approval and regulations.
The National Broadcasting Commission is the broadcast regulator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Commission was set up on August 24, 1992 by Decree 38 0f 1992 later amended as an Act of the National assembly by Act 55 of 1999 and now known as National Broadcasting Commission Laws of the Federation 2004, CAP N11 to among other responsibilities, regulate and control the broadcasting industry in Nigeria.
The minister for information and culture Lai Mohammed completely misdirected himself when he said Nigeria will sanction CNN for the documentary it did on the Lekki Tollgate shooting of the ENDSARS protesters orchestrated by the Nigerian Army. The minister has failed to appraise the issues intelligently. CNN only did a documentary of their findings, verifying all video footage obtained through scientific means to arrive at their empirical conclusion.
The Federal government only needed to disprove or controvert CNN’s position by showing the public a video with a contrary narrative, rather than dismissing the documentary under very heavy weather of emotive illogical expression. Before the CNN documentary was released the organization reached out to the army and the Lagos State Government on this issue but they declined, arguing that a Judicial Panel of Inquiry was already looking into the matter and they were unwilling to engage with the CNN or any other body.
On the CNN documentary, we found out that the peaceful protesters were actually shot at and people died. The military denied all these when the public confronted them with video footage of what transpired. The CNN report re-enforces the fact and deepened the evidential conviction that the military actually shot at and killed peaceful protesters. This very heinous crime cannot be covered up in this day and age when the advancement of technology has taken a new height.
With the available evidence of the incident and in the absence of a contrary report, CNN cannot be inculpated or sanctioned by the international communities for wrong doings let alone the National Broadcasting Commission. Reporting the truth is the highest level of professionalism in journalism. Lai Mohammed called the CNN report as ‘a poor piece of journalistic report.’ The minister was absolutely wrong to have said the aforementioned to a media organization that did a comprehensive investigative report that has not been disproved or controverted by the minister with evidence.
The United Nations recognize free press and this is the fulcrum to democratic engagements all over the world. Amidst the growing recognition of the importance of press freedom for democracy and development, in 1993 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that May 3 is “World Press Freedom Day”. Throughout the world, this day serves as an occasion to celebrate press freedom, raise awareness of violations against the right to freedom of expression and draw attention to the work of all too many journalists forced to brave death or jail to bring people their daily news. It is also on World Press Freedom Day that UNESCO awards the annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to a journalist who has distinguished him or herself in the fight for press freedom.
Evans Ufeli, Executive Director, Cadrell Advocacy Centre, Nigeria