Nigeria says it will sanction CNN unless it airs report alleging government planned toll road

The Nigerian government threatened to sanction CNN unless the network aired a report showing documents saying the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is building a toll road in the Lekki Peninsula in Lagos.

CNN says officials showed it documents for the Lekki Bay waterway expressway linking some of Lagos’ main roads to the center of the port city, “designed to ease transportation gridlock and spur economic development.”

But the government is saying the documents are incorrect.

In response to the broadcast, the Nigerian government demanded CNN show evidence they were inaccurate.

Late Monday, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Ministry of Works, said: “We intend to sanction CNN unless they come up with an adequate presentation that is backed by documentary evidence that is verifiable and sufficiently authenticated before Nigerians.”

The government said it has reviewed the documentary and “it did not paint a pretty picture.”

A CNN report indicates waterway entrance canals would help travelers cut the distance between Lagos and its industrial areas as the authorities try to revitalize a suburb neglected by the multinational business center that is Nigeria’s commercial capital.

The project has been criticized by locals who say it could disrupt water drainage systems and increase traffic on the city’s waterways.

Critics of the toll road claims — including Oloruntoba Otedola, a billionaire lawmaker who owns a telecommunications company that operates another, independent toll road — said the plans would increase traffic on Lagos’ local roads and encourage businesses to move operations to its neighboring states, creating a downward pressure on prices there.

Vicky Shehu, a Nigerian correspondent for CNN who contributed to the program, called the toll road plans a common one in Africa, but noted that the competition will not be local entrepreneurs, but foreign companies looking to profit off Lagos traffic.

The Guardian newspaper in Nigeria has reported that the city’s roads were built and built again during the Nigerian military dictator, General Sani Abacha, to direct traffic and generate revenue.

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