Journalists on essential duties in Lagos and Ogun States have sent a Save-Our-Soul (SOS) to the Commissioners of Police in both states following harassments in the hands of policemen and soldiers enforcing the curfew imposed on the two states.
Many journalists alleged that they suffered in the hands of policemen, who harassed, intimidated and even detained them as they were going home on Monday.
A senior Editor with the Daily Sun, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “With the conduct of the security agents, particularly the police, it shows that they were not properly briefed that journalists are also on essential duties like all the security agents. We have our constitutional duty to execute as the fourth estate of the realm. Some of us resume work from 4pm and there is no way we can finish our work before 8pm. It is our duty to inform the public about what is happening in the country, especially as it concerns COVID-19 and other important issues. How would the public know what is happening or get information if we go to bed before 8pm. News reporting and newspaper work is not a tea party affair.
“Yesterday, many journalists from different media houses were harassed and made to sleep on the road by policemen.
“The policemen were better behaved than the soldiers who were unruly and were hitting us with sticks. One of the soldiers at Ishaga Roundabout even threatened to shoot a journalist. The soldiers said he was not briefed that journalists were on essential duties,”
According to the soldiers: “We were briefed during the lockdown that journalists were exempted, but this is curfew. It is different from lockdown. We will forgive you today, but if you try us tomorrow, we will beat you the way we beat other motorists. We have warned you, don’t try us tomorrow.”
Mr Ben Onyeagwu has, however, appealed to CP Hakeem Odumosu of Lagos and his counterpart in Ogun State, CP Kenneth Ebirison, to as a matter of urgency, properly brief their men to stop intimidating journalists. “They should be properly briefed. We know that the CPs are well educated and understand very well that journalists are on essential duties just like the security agents. Why we are passionately appealing to the CPs is that most of us live in Ogun and work in Lagos and we can’t be sleeping in the office to because of the law on social distancing,” he said.