Countries usually require proof of a crime in order to apply sanctions against the prosecution.
And Nigeria is proving to be no exception when it comes to dismissing news reports that are said to depict the country in a negative light.
CNN, for instance, broadcast a story concerning the $20.4 million alleged to have been stolen from Nigeria’s local government coffers.
The government of Nigeria is threatening CNN with sanctions, but supplied no proof to back up its accusation the news network is deceptive in its depiction of the country.
The allegations were made last week by the justice minister and attorney general of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami.
“The news network and its journalist [Steven Jiang] committed an offence in breach of the fundamental rights of Nigerians as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended),” the government’s press statement said.
Related Image Expand / Contract Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said the news network had committed an ‘offence in breach of the fundamental rights of Nigerians.’ (CNN)
“You are hereby ordered to, as a matter of urgency, withdraw the story you wrote or anyone who relayed it or be prosecuted under relevant laws and regulations of the United States and Republic of Nigeria,” it added.
The government failed to provide any proof of the alleged error, though.
CNN was at first non-committal in response to Nigeria’s demands.
A statement from CNN’s Washington bureau directed back to the attorney general and the justice minister included: “You cite a CNN story from August 24 titled ‘Nigeria warns of sanctions if honest report of $20m larceny is not retracted’ but we refer you to the original document that your office says the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission initiated a complaint with U.S. authorities about. That document is dated May 30, 2017, according to ABC News.”
ABC News also reported a new report suggesting that CNN had indeed downplayed a $2.1 billion oil deal between the Nigerian government and Swiss oil company Glencore PLC.
A spokesperson told Fox News that the apparent contradiction was because the reports relate to different institutions.
The Glencore report, which came out on July 7, says the Swiss company won the contract to supply Nigeria’s state oil company, NNPC, with 650,000 barrels per day at prices including royalties and taxes.
The report, cited on Sunday by Reuters, says Glencore initially asked to purchase about 850,000 barrels per day, but the contract instead went to another company known as Royal Dutch Shell, which sold 250,000 barrels per day.
But now, at least two current Nigerian officials say that Glencore was awarded a lower quantity of oil than it asked for, The Guardian reported.
One of the sources said a deal was concluded, but that “Glencore was informed there was no volume to be delivered,” according to The Guardian.
The Glencore report accuses NNPC of hiring a consultancy company in the U.S. to help in the arrangement, and says that the consultancy represents the Nigerian government.
ABC reported that other sources including the Nigerian ambassador to New York and, most prominently, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo said that an attempt had been made to undercut the reporting, which was to have lasted for one month.
“This issue has been discussed repeatedly as recently as May 30, 2017, in several meetings and discussions with government officials in the U.S.,” said the ABC report.
It went on to quote Obasanjo: “NNPC approached Glencore to provide Nigerian crude oil, and Glencore simply stopped doing that because they [NNPC] could not provide the volume of crude they would like.”
In a statement, Glencore said “Our report is supported by external evidence which includes Nigerian government sources,” adding that NNPC is suing the company in a Swiss court to have the contract annulled, “because they believe our article provides ‘defamatory lies’.”