Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Nigeria government said CNN was relying on “false information” to report on the toll gate in Lekki
The Nigerian government has written to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) calling for a CNN report to be retracted and suggesting that the organisation was using “false information” to paint the country in a negative light.
The CNN report, posted on the CNN News website, questions the true character of the increase in the toll gates in Lekki, Lagos.
The toll gates were set up by the Lagos State government to discourage traffic congestion in the area.
In its letter to the EBU, dated 14 October, Nigeria’s Ministry of Information and Culture also threatened sanctions against the network if it did not retract the “false information”.
It said CNN was “in breach of its ethical obligations” if it did not back down.
The letter called on the broadcaster to address the accuracy of the information it used.
The CNN report is entitled: ‘Toll gate scam’ – Lagos toll gate: Don’t rely on false information. The report concludes that the increase in the toll gates is “worth it” as the land in Lekki is highly valued and can be easily sold to the highest bidder.
CNN’s original report does not include any evidence of the statement.
When contacted by the BBC, a spokesperson for CNN said the network’s editorially independent procedures required all articles to be considered properly before they were published.
“Any questions of fact, or issues of accuracy, are a matter for our reporters,” the spokesperson said.
The Nigerian government letter also suggested that the cable network was the source of false information and that the report’s author and editor had not done their homework.
Photo: Twitter/Channel [CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikimedia Commons]
Where to get involved
For those who would like to report on this story and take part in the debate, the BBC’s Newsnight will on Wednesday 30 October at 20:00 GMT broadcast a 30-minute edition. It will air on the News Channel and on the News 24 network across sub-Saharan Africa.
The programme will also livestream online from 20:00 GMT. Click here to register on our website.
“We will investigate this carefully and shall publish all the findings of our inquiry,” said The Today Programme’s editor Jackie Ward, announcing the programme’s 30-minute programme.
In the letter to the EBU, the Nigerian government reiterated it was conducting an inquiry into the story and suggested that CNN’s reporter may have been involved in a “cover-up” to secure its broadcast.
Here’s the full text of the letter :
In view of the new-found fame your network has generated from its recent report, ‘Toll gate scam’, please verify the accuracy of the information.
Since your nation’s media is in the news for all the wrong reasons, and you feel the need to finally correct what has been at best a very wrong perception of your own nation, it is particularly important that you should report that your account of the story is false.
The story published is that one lane of the Bonny trunk road was opened and that road cars were forced to pay an additional toll to use it. This is false information.
YABATECH, the foremost university in Nigeria, Professor Kayode Akindele (founder, president) was one of the few who embraced this project, as he stated, “Some people have various reasons for doing what they did. I think if you look carefully at my masterplan for the university and the need to provide a decent road network, it just came naturally.”
Others were however against the plan until, when the area fell under control of the Lagos State Government and they realised the potential profit with this particular idea, but still, it was a useful way to alleviate traffic and boost economic activity in the city.
We wish to make it crystal clear that if we are not happy with the way your report has been reported and we feel that you should withdraw it, the appropriate sanctions will be made available to you in accordance with the relevant UK regulations.
We would also like to ask that in case you are interested in any further discussions, we can be contacted immediately at Nigerian Embassy, United Kingdom.
Let us know your reaction to this press release. If you can respond at all, please do so and we will get back to you.
Ibrahim Dasuki is the Director-General of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)