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Journalists, medical doctors, others not exempted from curfew- IGP

By Monsuru Olowoopejo,
Journalists, medical practitioners and other professions consider essential service providers may no longer be willing to sacrifice for well being of Nigerians anymore, should they not be regarded as front-liners of coronavirus, after a directive from Inspector General of Police, IGP Muhammadu Adamu, that professions under the category were not longer exempted from curfew, and may be arrested if violated the movement restriction order.
As gathered, Adamu, through an internal signal, had directed commissioners of police across states where curfew were expected to be in effect, not to exempt any professions found violating the curfew orders from been arrested.
The Guild learnt that the said signal  directed all commissioners to ensure strict restriction of movement during the curfew and that the action was in line with effort to curtail spread of coronavirus in the country.

Following the new directives, several journalist and medical officials returning from work on Tuesday evening were made to experience hardship and series of harassments  residents go through if found guilty of violating the dusk to dawn order imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari as strategy to flatten the coronavirus curve in the country.

At the Alausa Police Station, Ikeja, investigations conducted by our correspondents revealed that several vehicles belonging to journalists, medical practitioners and a pregnant woman were impounded by the law enforcement officers attached to the station.

Large percent of the vehicles impounded during enforcement of the curfew schedule for 8pm and 6am daily at the divisional station, according an eyewitness, were professionals and other frontline officials that were returning from offices to their houses.

Also, another journalist, who was returning home from office and was caught in the web of the new signal, narrated that the curfew has taken a fresh dimensions in the state.

According to him, the new dimension is that the law enforcement officers do not have any regard for the essential service providers rather they directed that everyone irrespective of their status should pack for contravening the curfew.

In a message to his colleagues, the journalist said: “Good evening All. I hope we are all fine. The enforcement of the Curfew between 8pm-6am under the ease of the lockdown extension is in full force. At the moment many vehicles caught by the curfew stopped at Iyana Iworo end of Third Mainland Bridge. Most of the passengers have resorted to trekking. Some also arrested by the Police. Let us take note of this”.

A police source told the Guild that professionals earlier on the essential service provider list may be arrested if found on the road between 8pm and 6am when the curfew was expected to elapse.

In a swift response, Executive Director, International Press Centre, IPC, Lagos, Lanre Arogundade, asked the law enforcement officers to allow the journalist, who had left their homes since 6am to return home and prepare for tomorrow’s work.

Arogundade, in a statement made available to newsmen, stressed that it was out of order to impound the vehicle of a journalist, an essential frontline professional in the country.

“It is absolutely out of order for the Police to bar journalists from moving in the name of enforcing total curfew. The president has affirmed the role of journalists as frontline professionals in the fight against Covid-19 while the Minister of Information had earlier said journalists who have their identity cards should be allowed free movement during this period. Journalists who are currently being held in Lagos and any other part of the country should be set free immediately”.

Worried by the outcry that had trailed the directives, the Force headquarters, has directed Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police to ensure that professionals on the essential list should be exempted from the ongoing enforcement.

It listed the essential to include Medical Personnel,Firefighters, Ambulance Services and Journalists and that they should be exempted from the restriction of movement associated with both the partial lockdown and the national curfew across the Federation.

In a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday night, by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Frank Mba, said: “The Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed A. Adamu has therefore directed all Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commands Commissioners of Police to give effect to these exemptions whilst enforcing the restriction orders”.

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