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Nigeria’s Buhari slams CNN, BBC for coverage of protests

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is pictured as he presides virtually over the unveiling of the National Gas Expansion Program, in Abuja, Nigeria, on December 1, 2020. (Handout via Reuters)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has criticized foreign media outlets’ coverage of recent protests in his country against police brutality, arguing that it fails to take into account the entire events.

In a post on Twitter late on Wednesday, Buhari expressed anger over the coverage of street protests by BBC and CNN in particular, saying it was not “balanced.”

“It must be said that foreign press coverage of the ENDSARS violence was not balanced, especially from CNN and BBC. I was disgusted by the coverage, which did not give attention to the policemen that were killed, the stations that were burnt, and prisons that were opened,” Buhari said.

Nigeria has been rocked by a wave of protests since October, when thousands of mainly young Nigerians staged demonstrations to call on the government to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit accused of extrajudicial killings, extortion, and torture.

Nigerian authorities earlier threatened to sanction CNN for a report that showed Nigerian soldiers fatally shooting or injuring protesters last month during demonstrations at the Lekki Toll Gate in the country’s economic hub of Lagos.

The Nigerian government insisted that shots fired by the army and police were not targeted at people but the air, while eyewitnesses interviewed by CNN claimed the opposite, saying the shooting was “a massacre.”

Demonstrators gather during a protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

At least 15 people have died and dozens injured in the street protests, which have been met with force, according to Amnesty International. Police in some states used live ammunition, teargas, and water cannons to disperse protesters.

The demonstrators have been using the hashtag #ENDSARS to push for their cause, which has sparked solidarity protests around the world.

Nigerian authorities dissolved the SARS and replaced it with a new tactical team, known as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).

However, protests have continued to escalate, with many participants demanding that the government commit to prosecuting SARS officers and compensating victims. Some of the demonstrators are also calling for the inspector general of police to resign.

Both the army and police have dismissed the reports of killing demonstrators.

Nigerian police have also maintained a heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful protests by the country’s Shia Muslims.

The protesters have been calling for the release of top cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigerian forces.

During the brutal arrest, three of his sons were killed, he and his wife sustained serious wounds, and more than 300 of his followers lost their lives.


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