Nigeria threatens sanctions against CNN for reporting on its tollgate investigation

The Nigerian government threatened CNN Thursday with sanctions but provided no evidence that an investigation of the company’s Lagos tollgate investigation was inaccurate.

Last year, CNN reported allegations of corruption connected to the operations of Nigeria’s tollgate, which is used to collect tolls on vehicles traveling through Lagos.

The Lagos State tollgate-development agency said in December that “the CNN report, which says that the Lagos State government is giving bribes to get vehicles through the tollgate is inaccurate.”

Earlier this month, the Lagos tollgate announced the arrest of a CNN employee.

Nigeria’s Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi told reporters Thursday that CNN, with all due respect, should apologize to Nigerians for the error and back off of the allegation of corruption, The Guardian reports. “You will have to clear it. If you say there is corruption you have to provide proof,” the newspaper quoted Amaechi as saying.

“I make it categorically clear that CNN Nigeria has a case to answer,” Amaechi continued. “I believe with all confidence that CNN now owns and CNN cannot call its own information or fact unverified.”

CNN issued a statement Thursday responding to Amaechi.

“Last December, we challenged the Lagos State Tollgate Authority to provide evidence of the CNN report’s veracity. The Lagos State Tollgate Authority responded with allegations of impersonation and now we see Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation expressing frustration that CNN should apologize to Nigerians for its facts-based reporting,” the statement said.

“They have started this cycle of attacks, so CNN is very serious about talking about the facts and properly fact checking this issue.”

Earlier this month, the tollgate said it had placed a reporter, Elizabeth Olusekun, in jail. The organization has also accused Nigerian law enforcement of exaggerating the journalist’s role in the investigation.

On Thursday, the tollgate announced that it had placed Olusekun on administrative leave. The organization has fired its former attorney, no longer allows Olusekun to communicate with the public through social media and no longer shows her picture on the tollgate’s website.

Olusekun has responded to her expulsion with a video, in which she declares that she is human and that her “hands are not tied.” She describes what appeared to be a threat from the tollgate to her children and warns that her case is not one of “rank or rankless.”

“I’m in charge. I’m in control,” Olusekun says in the video. “I have other ways to maintain my voice. I know how to do it.”

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