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PTF tells security agents: Journalists are on essential service, exempt them from curfew

Police officers pull a journalist during an anti-government protest in Lagos, Nigeria August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Nneka Chile TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1BDB86BE00

 

…Information Minister to take on Lagos Police Commissioner

 

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, has told security agents to allow journalists to do their jobs, saying they are on essential service in the fight against flattening the Coronavirus curve.

 

“Journalists are part of the essential service. Because, whatever we do here, if you don’t report it then the news item will not get out to the population. The adverts we carry on the radio, television is supposed to enhanced and equip our people with knowledge and information, so that they can take informed decision not to go out there. Anything related to press is considered as an essential service for the purposes of allowing you free passage.

 

“We will look at the issue that happened in Lagos and the Minister of Information will take up that. Because, if we expects the networks to remain open or 24 hours or throughout the night, then when it comes to movement, our security agencies should be adoptive enough to know that this people are coming from their places of work and grant them access,’’ he said.

 

Mustapha spoke on Wednesday in Abuja at the PTF daily media briefing on COVID-19 situation reports across the country.

Persecondnews recalls that Lagos Police Commisssioner Hakeem Odumosu had on Monday instructed Area commanders and DPOs to stop journalists from going home after the day’s assignment.

 

Also, in the Federal Capital Territory, journalists were prevented from going to their places of work by security operatives, forcing them to return home.

 

On medical professionals facing similar challenge, the SGF said: “We will look at that. If it is the release of the protocol that did not consider that I believe that the national coordinator, who has the primary responsibility of dealing with that, would take a look at it and see how best.

 

“Because you need the medical professionals to go and have a rest and refresh and come back with renewed vigor to continue with the assignment. The same with any other person that would have worked for about 12 hours or sometimes 14, 16 hours.

 

“I think we will look at it and see if it is the narration that did not provide for that, the national coordinator should be able to give the appropriate clarification for the purposes of enforcement,’’ Mustapha promised.

 

Also commenting on the issue, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, promised to take it up with the Lagos State Police Commissioner.

 

“I will take up the matter of the commissioner of police in Lagos. Because by my understanding, anybody that is a journalist with identification is allowed to move about.”

 

The National coordinator of PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, restated that journalists were exempted in the restriction of movement and curfew because of the nature of their job.

“ I’m surprised that you are having issues. We will realize specific clarifications, we are meeting with security agencies on Friday and we will make it be clear people on essential duties are exempted from the curfew.”

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Written by Kunle Akinsola

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