Buhari succumbs as FG clears Journalists on lockdown
- Your ID card is your pass – Minister
president Muhammadu Buhari may have succumbed to pressures on the restriction of Journalists during the 14 days lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the FCT.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, clarified that all working journalists and other media staff in Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) can use their valid Identity Cards to access their places of work and assignment venues during the 14-day lockdown directed by the President in the two states and the FCT.
He said the clarification becomes necessary because of the inadequate time to properly accredit working journalists in the affected states and the FCT during the period.
The Minister admitted that members of the media are expected to continue to provide essential services during the lockdown, in order to keep Nigerians well updated on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nigerian Guild of Editors on Monday berated President Muhammadu Buhari over the restriction of the movement of Journalists in the country. The NGE strongly condemned the harassment of drivers of newspaper distribution vans by overzealous security operations on Sunday, restricting them from delivering newspapers for circulation in some states.
“It should be noted that the media is a strategic partner in national affairs, with the Constitutional mandate of providing information to the populace.
“The body of Editors, hereby, restates that media personnel are rendering essential services and Journalists should be commended for carrying out their Constitutional mandate of sourcing stories and monitoring compliance with government directives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, instead of being harassed.
“The Guild, therefore, implores state governments that have declared one form of lockdown or the other, being measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, to appropriately educate the security agents drafted to enforce the restrictions, on the essential nature of media duties,” NGE had declared.
The Guild expressed worries that some security agents, who may not be sufficiently knowledgeable about the operations of media houses, may find it difficult to determine the categories of print and electronic staff who cannot work from home.
In the light of this potential friction, the Guild, therefore, demanded the Nigerian Government to exempt all categories of media staff from the COVID-19 Stay-at-home restrictions. The Guild further enjoined journalists to carry their means of identification as they undertake their duties, to eliminate the chances of being harassed by security operatives.
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