Toll gates are meant to keep people safe, but they have proved especially dangerous in Nigeria. The country’s state government, which ran into a trouble in the most recent bribery scandal surrounding the coveted economic development projects, is now facing a new challenge — namely, the news organization CNN.
On Thursday, Nigerian officials threatened to expel CNN from the country if the network did not retract a report in which its correspondent, Hadiza Bala Usman, said the toll gates were stuffed with bribes by those who managed to go through.
But Nigerian officials did not back down and threatened sanctions against CNN.
“We are saying this is nonsense, it is outrageous,” said Yomi Akinbode, spokesman for Nigerian Attorney General Abubakar Malami, The Associated Press reported. “It’s certainly not factual.”
It seems obvious that the network had some proof to back up its reporting, but only when asked, did the Nigerian government point to any of it.
“We have seen her (Bala Usman’s) copy of the report. We have got some details from some people, but not the entire story,” Akinbode told the BBC. “We had no other way but to warn CNN because they should be wary of news agencies in Nigeria.”
Turns out, an investigation by CNN over the last year showed the truth.
From October to March, the network filmed efforts in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, in which vendors walked onto toll gates after hours and cashed in on the little excessed tolls, according to interviews.
The street vendors paid as much as 10 times the official toll rate, and one vendor in Abule Egba, a neighborhood not far from the tolls, claimed to have walked for days to collect the missing cash. The allegation, which is hardly new, is not limited to Nigeria. Last December, the Washington Post reported that an investigation by Colombian authorities found toll gates in that country’s capital were being used to launder money.
All of this can only make Nigerians more suspicious of the rampant corruption within their state government, which has been hurt by a steady stream of high-level corruption scandals.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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