...Say Nigeria cannot afford total lockdown
THE Nigerian Guild of Editors has strongly condemned the harassment on Sunday, of drivers of newspaper distribution vans by overzealous security agents in some states.
In a release signed by the president of the guild, Mustapha Isah and the general secretary, Mary Atolagbe, the guild noted 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.
Noting that the media is a strategic partner in national affairs, with the constitutional mandate of providing information to the populace, the implored 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.
It recalled President Muhammad Buhari’s statement in a nationwide broadcast, permitting “workers of telecommunications companies, broadcasting, print and electronic media, who can prove they are unable to work from home” as being exempted from the total lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, and the Federal Capital Territory and expressed worry over the attitude of some security agents, who may not be sufficiently knowledgeable about the operations of media houses and 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 is calling on the Nigerian Government to exempt all categories of media staff from the COVID-19 Stay-at-home restrictions and hereby enjoins journalists to carry their means of identification as they undertake their duties, to eliminate the chances of being harassed by security operatives.
“The guild commends the federal and state governments for the measures put in place to contain the deadly Coronavirus and also applauds government’s pledge of palliative measures for the most vulnerable in the society during this period of lockdown, especially those who survive on daily income.”
The body of editors equally commended the tireless efforts of medical personnel, who have continued to put their lives on the line, as the world battles the monstrous COVID-19 pandemic and noted that Nigeria cannot afford a total lockdown at this time.
“People should be allowed to move within their neighbourhoods to access pharmacies, fuel stations and other basic needs”.
The release further urged all journalists and other personnel on essential services to adhere strictly to the prescribed precautionary measures against COVID-19 and continue to stay safe in the course of their duties.