Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nigerian information minister accuses CNN of fraud

The Nigerian government is quite sensitive to criticism about tension in the southern Niger Delta region of the country. A region which is country's primary oil region, oil being the government's main money maker. Citizens are upset that the oil industry has lead to massive environmental devastation with virtually no tangible benefit for the residents of the region. Hostage taking by militant groups and human rights abuses by the Nigerian army are commonplace there.

The federal government is so hypersensitive that it even accused CNN of staging a report which showed 24 Filipino hostages being held by masked gunmen in the remote mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta.

"We have evidence that some of these people were actually paid to put up a show," Nigerian Minister of Information Frank Nweke Jr. told CNN International about last week's report by Jeff Koinange, CNN's Africa correspondent.
"It was a paid job, and that's exactly why we are very upset about it," he said, without offering evidence.

"He had actually approached other people before then to do the same thing and his offer was declined. And he shopped around for more people and found those criminals who were willing to play ball with him and they put on the kind of show that they put up and which was shown around the world."


CNN and the journalist Koinange explicitly denied the information minister's accusations.

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