The Federal Government on Tuesday warned policemen and other security agencies to allow journalists free passage during the hours of the nationwide 8pm – 6am curfew imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago.
Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, warned security agents not to stand in the way of journalists during the nationwide curfew imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Monday, Hakeem Odumosu, commissioner of police in Lagos, instructed area commanders and divisional police officers (DPOs) not to allow journalists who were on duty move around from 8pm when the curfew takes effect.
In the Federal Capital Territory, security operatives prevented journalists from going to their places of work, saying they were not exempted from the curfew.
But at the daily briefing of the task force, Mustapha highlighted the role of the media, making it clear that the president categorised journalists among those who could move freely.
“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,” he said.
“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; the minister of information will take that up. Because, if we expect the networks to remain open or 24 hours or throughout the night, then when it comes to movement, our security agencies should know that these people are coming from their places of work and grant them access.”
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 to handle.
“Because, you need the medical professionals to go and have a rest and refresh and come back with renewed vigour to continue with the assignment. Same with any other person that would have worked for 12 sometimes to 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.”
On his part, Mohammed said: “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.”