President Muhammadu Buhari has described as disgusting, the coverage of #EndSARS protests by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and America’s Cable News Network (CNN).
He expressed this at a meeting with state governors at the presidential villa in Abuja.
Nigerian youth in October held the #EndSARS protest in major cities, demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police, notorious for extra-judicial killings, harassment and excessive use of force.
The protest gained global traction with prominent people across the globe lending their voices to the campaign.
The largely peaceful protest was later hijacked by hoodlums who unleashed acts such as looting and arson.
However, on October 20, two weeks after the protest began, Nigerian soldiers shot unarmed protesters at Lekki Toll Gate Plaza in Lagos state.
This generated a furore forcing the army and the Lagos State government to initially deny shooting, after which investigations showed that some persons died and many sustained injuries in the incident.
According to a special report by the CNN, soldiers shot at protesters, killing many. The investigation uncovered the bullets used as a 2015 brand from Serbia. This refuted the claims from the army denying the use of live ammunition.
The Nigerian government, however, condemned the CNN report as fallacious and irresponsible.
Meanwhile, in his first public comment on the coverage of the protests, the president said the foreign media coverage was not balanced, accusing the CNN and BBC of omitting the killing of police officers and attacks on police stations and prisons.
He was quoted by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, as saying:
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. (They said we are all at fault. We don’t have the sympathy of anyone. We are on our own).
President Buhari further warned that the government would no longer allow violent demonstrations in Nigeria, adding:
Democracy does not mean confusion or lack of accountability.
On the destruction of private and public property, Mr Buhari said no responsible government would allow such to happen again.
We do not stop anyone from demonstrating, but you don’t set up roadblocks and smash windscreens. Which government will allow that?