Essential workers in Lagos, including doctors and journalists, were, last night, stopped from going about their duties by the Police, in the enforcement of the curfew imposed by the Federal Government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Some journalists and health workers were also arrested by policemen, who said they were acting on the orders of the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu.
Called to prevail on his men to allow journalists passage, the CP said: “Everybody is covered by this curfew. That is the order.” He said nobody was exempted from the curfew and dismissed all appeals to allow journalists held by his men to go. Vanguard gathered that the Police in Lagos might have misread their orders from the Police High Command in Abuja, which gave orders to Lagos Police Command not to exempt anybody from the curfew.
All Vanguard staff, as well as workers of other news media, who left office after work, yesterday, could not get to their homes, as they were held by the security men. The policemen refused to listen to pleas by journalists, who explained that they were on essential service and had been exempted from the curfew. “This is an order from above. Everybody should stay at home because this curfew covers everybody,” one of the policemen yelled at some of the media men. The latest development has created a huge problem for the media industry, especially newspapers, as hundreds of millions of naira worth of newspapers would not be able to reach sales point, as a result of the new action by the Police. It is also not known how many lives may be endangered, as health workers were also held down, in addition to trucks conveying foodstuffs and petroleum products. A medical doctor, caught in the web, lamented: “This is unfortunate. How can the police stop us from performing our duties of saving lives? “This is contrary to the assurance given to us by the Presidential Task Force, that workers on essential services were exempted from the curfew.”