BY SUNNY A. DAVID
The Anambra State Police Command and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, are currently in a disagreement, after policemen enforcing the lockdown order of the Anambra State government turned down its members who were going to the office.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had in a broadcast two weeks ago while declaring a lockdown in some States, announced that essential workers, including journalists, should be allowed movement after identifying themselves.
But in Anambra State, police officers enforcing the lockdown order arrested and detained journalists for hours before turning them back to their homes, even though they identified themselves.
The situation left many local radio stations, including Radio Nigeria not relaying news at the supposed time, as most of their news casters were among those arrested.
In protest, most journalists have bombarded the State Police Commissioner with complaints, asking for immediate review of the process, to avoid a breakdown of the relationship enjoyed by both organisation.
The State Council of NUJ has also called on police officers to refrain from harassing journalists, or be ready for a showdown with the media.
A release by the State Secretary of NUJ, Comrade Emma Udeagha stated that, “The attention of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has been drawn to unlawful obstruction & detention of some Journalists & media workers in the State by security men enforcing the Lock down directives of the State Government over the Corona Virus pandemic.
“Some of these journalists and media workers, including Correspondents of media houses and staff of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS, who were going to their beats were detained for several hours today.
“This unconscionable action resulted in the failure of some radio and television programmes meant to update the public on the pandemic. It is amazing that these media workers were detained even after properly identifying themselves.
The action of these security men were clearly against the directives of the IGP of police, Muhammad Adamu for them to ensure that person’s on essential duties, duly exempted from the restriction orders, including Journalists & media workers, should be accorded due courtesies and unfettered access to and from their places of duty.
“We take serious exception to the unprofessional, inhuman, tactless and overzealous action of the policemen on this matter.
“It’s generally known that Journalists, like health workers, are in the front line, getting the facts, breaking them down and reporting them in a manner that the populace can understand.
“They, therefore, did not deserve to be molested and dehumanized for trying to protect the right of the people to information. We note that this is not the first time that Journalists were humiliated in the line of duty in the State.
“The Council would take appropriate action if the untoward development was not checked.”
Replying, the police have promised to make tags available for easy identification of journalists by police officers.
The Spokesperson for Anambra State Police Command, SP Haruna Mohammed said, “The Commissioner of Police CP JB Abang has noted with great concern all your grievances and equally mapped out modalities to address them sooner than later.”
This, however, doesn’t seem to go down well with most journalists in the State, who have insisted that the command is not more than the President of the country who stated that the identity cards of the journalists can act as their pass.
BY SUNNY A. DAVID