#EndSARS: Media reports focused on ‘fake massacre’ instead of police gruesome killings, says Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has accused the Nigerian media of not giving the same zest to the reportage of the killings of some of the nation’s security agents, the way they had reported others, during the recent #EndSARS crisis, that rocked the entire country.

The minister, who made this accusation, at a parley with title editors in Lagos on Friday, described the media’s reportage of such killings as perfunctory since they did not demonstrate enough feeling for those security agents, ‘hacked down in the most gruesome manner’.

According to him, rather than pay attention to the ‘barbaric and gruesome’ murder, the media, instead, pre-occupied itself with reporting the ‘fake massacre’ at Lekki Toll Gate.

“Few paid attention to the way and manner policemen and soldiers were killed. In particular, policemen were hacked down in the most gruesome manner that calls into question the sanity of their killers.

“ Remember that in addition to the killing of security agents, eight medium-security custodial centres in six states, Edo, Lagos, Abia, Delta, Ondo and Ebonyi, were attacked, with 1,957 inmates, most of them dangerous criminals, set free.

“Add that to the fact that over 100 AK-47 rifles were stolen by hoodlums as they burnt police station after police station, and you will understand the gravity of the situation. The spectre of hoodlums, armed with AK-47, roaming the streets and our roads, will send jitters down the spine.

“Wittingly or unwittingly, we have succeeded in scaring policemen off their beats. Today, many of them are even afraid to wear their uniform. And the result has not been pleasant, in terms of security of life and property. We all owe
it a duty to empathize with and appreciate our security agents, and should resist the temptation to tar all of them with the same brush.

“No life is more important than the other, and respect for human rights should not be selective,” the minister stated.

The minister also attributed the wanton lootings and destructions of lives and properties, experienced during the crisis, to the activities of rumour mongers and peddlers of fake news, who, he argued, the conventional media, unfortunately, sourced their stories from.

Lai Mohammed also berated the media for ceding the authority to lead the right narrative to the social media, which, he described, as having little regard the rigours of fact-checking.

“In the first instance, it seems you, unfortunately, fell for the hoax that there was a massacre at Lekki Toll Gate. Almost all papers ran screaming headlines of massacre or killings at the toll gate the day after the Oct. 20th incident there, when soldiers fired blank ammunition into the air to disperse protesters.

“Did you also fall for social media manipulation of the events that transpired that evening? No group was better placed than you to lead the narrative of what happened that night, but it seems you ceded that authority to social media, which has no time for the rigours of gate-keeping or fact-checking,” he stated.

He, however, expressed the hope that the media would rectify the ‘anomaly’, while reviewing its your coverage of the whole crisis,” the minister added.


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