By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria should sanction CNN for a report that the country's military shot and killed protesters demonstrating against police brutality, a minister said on Thursday, but the U.S. channel defended its reporting.
The U.S. broadcaster used "unverified and possibly doctored videos" and "information from questionable sources" in the report, information minister Lai Mohammed told a news conference in Abuja.
When asked, Mohammed did not specify how the government might sanction CNN. He said he believes the broadcaster has internal systems for dealing with erring staff, and that Nigerian authorities would also do what was necessary.
A CNN spokesperson said "Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it."
Thousands of Nigerians took to the streets to protest against the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which the demonstrators blame for killings, torture and extortion.
Though the protests were initially peaceful, demonstrators in an upmarket Lagos district were shot at on Oct. 20 by men witnesses said were soldiers. Rights group Amnesty international said 12 protesters were killed. The army denied involvement.
The British parliament will on Monday debate imposing sanctions "on members of the Nigerian government and police force involved in any human rights abuses by the Nigerian police," after a public petition gathered enough signatures for lawmakers to debate the move.
In response to the petition, the British government said: "We were concerned by violence during recent protests and await the outcome of Nigerian investigations into reports of police brutality. We do not publicly speculate on future sanctions designations."
Nigeria fined three television stations over their reporting of the protests, Mohammed said, adding that the government wanted to check a trend in which media houses use materials obtained on social media without verification.
He said the government had no plans to shut down social media but he was advocating regulation of its use.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah and Paul Carsten; additional reporting by Libby George in Lagos; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Giles Elgood, William Maclean)