American news-based television channel, Cable Network News (CNN), has retracted its initial report, which claimed that troops of the Nigerian Army killed 38 EndSARS protesters at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos State.
Dubbed “Lekki Massacre” PRNigeria reports that the incident which occurred on October 20, 2020, is fraught of a lot of misinformation, disinformation and fake news to which a lot of reputable local and International Media Organizations were found culpable, including CNN itself and the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC.
In the “Clarification,” CNN said it did not attribute the death toll to Amnesty International and also failed to say in the report that the 38 persons killed were not just at the Lekki tollgate but across the country during the #EndSARS protest.
Recall that PRNigeria had through its fact-checking initiative on November 18th, unveiled a report on 101 cases of fake news on #EndSARS protests it identified, and which were shared and disseminated on various social media platforms.
The Editor-in-Chief of PRNigeria, Mr Yushau Shuaib, at a public presentation of the findings on the #endsars protest noted that the identified 101 fake news used by social media influencers and some media houses aided the escalation of the initially peaceful protest that turned violent.
In terms of the spread of the fake news items across the geo-political zones, the PRNigeria report revealed that about 52 fake news emerged from South-West, while 19 came out from the South East and 30 from the entire North.
On fake news peddlers, the report discovered that social media influencers constitute about 40% of those who spread the fake news, social media users constitute about 31%, while the media (including local and foreign) has 22%, and Institutions contributed a paltry 7%.
The fact-checking tools deployed to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the identified fake news include the social media users that identified 11 fake posts, Fact-Checking System detected 37 fake news items while the media confirmed the falseness of 53 stories.
The timeline of the dissemination of the fake news items indicates that about 31% of the fake stories were posted on social media between October 3 to 19, 2020 that is pre-Lekki Shootings. On the other hand, 69% of the fake news were shared post-Lekki shootings, that is between October 20 and November 5, 2020
The duo of Dahiru Lawal and Abdulsalam Mahmud, the Project Manager of PRNigeria Centre, Kano and Assistant Editor, respectively, anchored a power-point presentation of the report highlight some of the major fake news reports on EndSARS. Dahiru gave instances on some fake posts shared about prominent Nigerians during the nationwide EndSARS protests.
Pending when the full report will be published and presented to the public in January, PRNigeria had written to critical Media Organizations and Institutions caught in the act of fake news paddling to retract their stories for the sake of objectivity, sanity and integrity of the media which will lead Peaceful Coexistence.
Reacting to the retraction, the Fact-Checking Project Coordinator at the PRNigeria Centre for Strategic Communication, Dahiru Lawal applauded CNN for taking the part of honour calling on others found wanting to fall in line.
He noted that there are other media organizations, public officials and Institutions that the 101 fake news report exposed, expressing optimism that before the full publication is out by next month, they will all tow the path of honour.
“Those who made similar mistakes should come and retract because sometimes retraction enhances their credibility. They should understand that retraction is an honour rather than standing on something that is not their fault.” Mohammad quipped.