The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has promised to engage with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, over his directive to policemen in the state to prevent journalists from moving around during the curfew
During the daily briefing of the Presidential task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the Minister 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”.
Corroborating the Minister, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. SaniAliyu, said “of course journalists are exempted. I’m surprised that you are having issues. We will make specific clarifications, we are meeting with security agencies on Friday and we will make it clear to them that people on essential duties are exempted from the curfew.”
Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, said “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 enhance 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 expect the networks to remain open for 24 hours or throughout the night, then when it comes to movement, our security agencies should be adaptive enough to know that these people are coming from their places of work and grant them access.”
The police in many parts of Lagos State prevented journalists from going to their office and to other destinations to cover events claiming they were acting on the directive of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who himself, on May 4, 2020 in Gbagada prevented journalists from returning home, claiming that he did not recognize them as essential duty workers during COVID-19 curfew.
The journalists were delayed many hours until senior Lagos State Government officials intervened before Police Commissioner allowed them to go their ways.
Although the COVID-19 lockdown has been lifted in Nigeria, the government, however, imposed a dusk to dawn (8 pm to 6 am) curfew in the nation to curb community spread of COVID-19.