IGP Counters Presidential Orders Exempting Journalists from COVID-19 Lockdown, Curfew

Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police
Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, on May 19, 2020 issued a directive ordering police commands not to exempt anybody, including journalists and medical workers on essential duties, when enforcing the ban on interstate movements and the nationwide curfew contrary to President MuhammaduBuhari’s nationwide broadcast which exempts journalists and workers on essential duties from the lockdown and curfew.

Giving the directive to the zonal assistant-inspectors general of police and state commissioners of police during a virtual conference, Mr. Adamu said all essential duty personnel, including the media, must comply with the curfew banning movement from 8pm to 6am declaring that any person, including essential workers, should be arrested if they breached the curfew restricting movement.

The Police Force Public Relations Officer (PFPRO), Mr. Frank Mba, confirmed the IG’s directive, explaining that the virtual conference availed the police leadership the opportunity to assess the security situation in the country, review operational strategies and take decisive measures aimed at evolving customized security solutions to cope with crime trends and other security challenges relating to the pandemic.

He added, “The Inspector-General of Police has ordered strict enforcement of the national curfew and interstate movement restriction orders emplaced by the Federal Government as part of measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“The IG gave this directive to the zonal assistant-inspectors general of police and state commissioners of police during a virtual conference held on Tuesday.”

An anonymous police source said: “The IGP has instructed a total lockdown. It is expected of every essential duty personnel to comply with this directive. He (IGP) just finished briefing commissioners of police. It had been agreed that those on essential duty must comply with the curfew. We mean business this time around. Journalists and other essential duty workers were exempted, but in the new order, nobody is exempted.

“We have been told that, once it is 8pm, we lockdown. We thought it was only on interstate travels, but we have just been informed that it is within the state also. So, nobody is exempted. We don’t know how to manage the issue because those on essential duty comprise medical workers, journalists and others. It is a serious issue. Anyway, the police job is one of discretion, and we will apply wisdom. But the IGP’s directive is a total lockdown. It is a tough one.”

President Buhari had on March 29, in his first COVID-19 address to the nation ordered a lockdown in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states but exempted health workers, journalists as well as the staff of telecommunication companies from the lockdown. Reiterating the exemption of journalists, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said journalists only needed to present their official identity cards to move around during the lockdown.

Another source who participated in the IG’s virtual conference with police commissioners disclosed that Mr. Adamu directed policemen not to allow any exemption.

He said, “For your information, a curfew is a curfew. After 8 pm, there will be no movement by anybody, including journalists and doctors as well as other health workers.

“The directive we have received from the IG is that as from 8 pm, the question of being on essential services does not arise.”