The Lagos State police command has stated that journalists are part of essential services providers; therefore, they are not affected by the curfew in the state. This is coming on the heels of reports that many media practitioners in Lagos returning home from work were on Monday night shut out for hours on the instruction of Commissioner of Police Hakeem Odumosu.
On the first day of the 8:00p.m. to 6:00a.m. curfew imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, the police boss had mounted a roadblock on Gbagada Expressway, and declined for a long time to allow passage for people on essential duty including journalists, despite protestation and pleas.
But the spokesman of the command, Bala Elkana, yesterday dispelled insinuations that journalists were being harassed by police operatives in Lagos. According to Elkana, “the command wishes to state clearly that journalists have significant roles to play as explained by the federal government, that journalists are part of the essential workers in combating the spread of the coronavirus.
“The Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has on several occasions stated that he never mentioned journalists as not being part of the essential duty workers. It would be recalled that the CP during the odd hours had paved ways for journalists trapped in the traffic and the CP personally alighted to clear the traffic for them so as to ease their movements.
“CP Odumosu had earlier, also cleared some newspapers’ circulation vans who were held up in the traffic as a result of the curfew. The newspaper agents were immediately cleared as part of essential duty workers. In this period when the COVID-19 pandemic rages, information via the Fourth Estate of the realm is essential, as the public needs to be reached with relevant and timely information via all available medium. This makes the role of journalists key in the fight to overcome this pandemic ravaging the whole world.
“The command wishes to state unequivocally that every journalist with a valid identity card is certified to move and discharge his or her duty as an essential duty officer. All policemen and security agents are hereby instructed to cooperate with and accord journalists and other essential duty workers such as medical personnel, oil and gas personnel, key banking sector workers, etc, the right to free movement without delay.”