Journalists on essential service list, exempted from curfew, PTF tells security agents

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, Wednesday said security personnel should desist from blocking journalists in trying to enforce the lockdown order across the country.

The SGF, who disclosed this said this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force in Abuja, said journalists are rendering essential service in the fight against the coronavirus.
“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 expect 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 these people are coming from their places of work and grant them access,” he said.

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. 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.”

Also speaking, Minister of information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said the Ministry of information and Culture would take up the matter with the relevant authorities.
“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,” he said.

National coordinator of the Presidential Task Force, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the committee would engage the relevant authorities to ensure that journalists and health workers move freely to discharge their duties.
“Of course journalists are exempted. 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 that people on essential duties are exempted from the curfew,” he said.

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