The federal government yesterday said it was unperturbed by resolutions of the United Kingdom parliamentarians for sanctions against top Nigerian officials and security agents involved in the alleged violation of #EndSARS protesters’ rights as it did not represent the position of the British government.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was said to have told THISDAY in Abuja that the UK government will not sanction Nigerian officials based on a fake report.
He was reacting to Monday’s resolutions taken after the parliamentarians had considered a petition signed by 220, 000 signatories in the aftermath of the alleged shooting of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, calling, among others, for sanction against indicted Nigerian officials.
However, while the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) hailed the decision of the UK parliament, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said it was losing confidence in the UK lawmakers.
Also yesterday, there was an uproar on the floor of the Senate as senators demanded the setting aside of one per cent of proceeds from the Value Added Tax (VAT) to compensate Lagos State and others affected by the violence associated with the #ENDSARS protests nationwide.
Meanwhile, despite the federal government’s protest over its earlier report on the Lekki Tollgate shootings, for which it demanded a retraction, the CNN yesterday aired a second report on the incident, in which it analysed CCTV footage tendered before the Lagos State Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing the matter, to show that soldiers fired at the protesters.
The UK Parliament’s Petitions Committee had on Monday debated the motion “that this House has considered e-petition 554150, relating to Nigeria and the sanctions regime.”
Petitions debates are general debates, which allow members of parliament from all parties to deliberate on crucial issues raised by one or more petitions, and put their concerns to government ministers.
A member of the Petitions Committee, Theresa Villiers MP, opened the debate, while the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office sent a minister to respond.
However, Mohammed in an exclusive interview with THISDAY said there was no reason for the federal government to be worried by the UK Parliament’s resolution.
The minister stated that what the UK Parliament relied on to arrive at its resolutions were fake news and hearsay.
Mohammed said: “The federal government is not panicky at all. The resolution of the UK Parliament is not necessarily the decision of the UK government.
“And no responsible government will consider sanctioning the federal government based on fake news and hearsay without getting in touch with the government.
“Two issues – the resolution of the UK Parliament doesn’t represent the position of the government of the UK and only the government can sanction and parliament can only make resolutions.
“Secondly, we are very confident that no responsible government, no serious government, is going to consider imposing sanctions on other countries based on fake news and unverified videos.
“They will also do their own painstaking investigations and also ask for the side of the country. So, we have no reason to panic at all because we know that all the evidence before them is fake news- nothing of big news.”
Also reacting to CNN’s second report, the minister said he had watched the video and there was nothing in it to disprove Nigeria’s position that there were no fatalities arising from the Lekki Tollgate shootings as soldiers only fired blank bullets.
He added: “Nothing new – CNN is desperate and they are grasping at straws. I have watched the video. We have asked questions: where are the bodies they are claiming? And it is very important to do that. CNN was never at the gate on 20th October
“The BBC reporter that was there reported that the soldiers did not shoot into the crowd. And then the CNN is being clever by half.
“The same CNN on October 23 on its Twitter handle tweeted that 38 lives were lost. A month later after their so-called intensive investigation, they came out and said only one person was killed.
“And people are not even noticing this inconsistency. The truth of the matter is that CNN has been caught in the glare of its own fake news and misinformation and it is just struggling and you know we have written an official letter to CNN.
“The facts are clear. All the videos they are using, none of them can show us dead bodies. They claimed soldiers went and dumped the bodies elsewhere, so those people have no relations.
“They have no parents, and a month after they can’t come out and say my son and daughter went to the tollgate and did not come back. CNN was unprofessional, unfair and reckless.”