The Presidency has again expressed concern over the circulation of fake news and misleading information occasioned by the EndSARS protests aimed at causing social discontent and disunity in the country.
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this at a Media Parley with international journalists organized by Presidential Media Team at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, on Monday.
Mr Adesina condemned what he described as deliberate misinformation and incorrect reports by some international media outfits who reported the protests in some part of the country.
He explained that the meeting was part of the ongoing critical engagements with both local and international media aimed at ensuring better understanding of events in the country.
“There have been different kinds of reportage, particularly from the international media, some informed; some not quite informed and some downright incorrect.
“We just felt it was necessary to invite these international journalists so that we can share perspectives with them and it can condition their reportage positively, because if they have background information I don’t think journalists will set out deliberately to skew reports.
“At times, their reports end up being skewed because they do not have enough information.
“So, that is why we held this meeting so that the necessary background information that they can condition their reportage.
“There should be no end to engagements. We should continue to engage – engage with local journalists and engage with international journalists.
“Engagement should be a continuous process because through engagements we can forge better understanding,’’ Mr Adesina said.
Speaking at the forum, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, saluted the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, for the mature way it handled the EndSARS protests despite the killing of its personnel in some parts of the country.
Mr Malami assured that the Federal Government would continue to ensure institutional provisions to the NPF to enhance the quality of policing in the country.
“How does the reform of police now translated into manifestation associated with the EndSARS incident.
“I think the answer is clear; for the first time in over past 20 years, we do not have incidences associated with massive loss of lives by way of reactions of the police.
“And in effect, we eventually have in our hands an incident where 20 policemen were provocatively killed by purported protesters without counter reactions by way of counter provocative attacks on the part of the public.
“What further evidence do you need of a reform of the police force in a situation whereby in as nation our security outfit, security personnel and indeed our security infrastructure are being attacked with impunity to such an extent that over 200 police stations were set ablaze without provocative reactions on the part of the police.
“I think I have made my point that we do not only have a reformed police force arising from the legislative frameworks that are in place, but we have an established proof of reform both in terms of attitude, sentiment and associated reactions on the part of the police,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the media engagement also featured questions and answers session where Mr Malami and the Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, debunked the allegation that soldiers were ordered to shoot EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate in October.
Malami disclosed that the federal government had directed that all cases of police brutality and maltreatments of innocent citizens by security personnel should be investigated and culprits should be brought to book.
On his part, Mr Magashi revealed that the Lekki EndSARS incident was being investigated by both the federal and Lagos State governments.
He, therefore, appealed to the media to always avoid speculative reports on the incident as government was doing all it could to identify and prosecute all those behind the crisis.
The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who also spoke at the event, dismissed the assertion that the EndSARS protests would affect the smooth consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who highlighted the state of the nation’s economy, reiterated the commitment of the government to ensure full implementation of the 5-point demand of youths occasioned by the EndSARS protests.
She also expressed the readiness of the federal government to complement the efforts of those state governments that established Compensation Fund meant to to compensate families of victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS killings.
In his remarks, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, expressed the hope that the presidency would sustain the media engagements for the general good of the society.