The management of TheNigerian News and TeleVision Nigerian, an online news platform, has denied claims by Police command of the Federal Capital Territory, that the five persons arrested and paraded for allegedly faking being infected with Coronavirus were pranksters.
The Federal Capital Territory Director of Public Health, Dr. Josephine Okechukwu, had on Saturday 1st February accused the five persons of going to Wuse District Hospital claiming that one of them had been infected with the dreaded Coronavirus.
However, in the latest twist of events, the management of the online news platform said the accused persons are its employees, who had gone to carry out their lawful duties as journalists.
According to a report by Lawrence Audi, the management of the company said that the employees including Jacob Orji, David Gold Enemingin, Pricilla Ajeshola, Peggy Shande and Abayomi Adedoyin were arrested in Wuse area of Abuja while gathering report on Lassa Fever in the FCT.
The organisation said that they were arrested and detained on the instructions of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, as persons attempting to cause panic in the nation’s capital.
Audu said, ”These innocent citizens were illegally arrested around the Wuse District Hospital where they were gathering materials for a special report on Lassa Fever and Coronavirus.
We made every attempt to persuade the police who saw reasons for amicable resolution of this with the affected authorities.
Regrettably, the minister blatantly refused to yield to reason as his staff insisted on parading these patriotic citizens like common criminals.
This repressive attack on the media was ostensibly an attempt to suppress facts as to the FCT administration’s handling of the outbreak of Lassa Fever and Coronavirus that have put the world and citizens all over the country on alert.
The decision of those behind this humiliating episode to go this route of repression and maligning of the journalists is most unfortunate since TheNigerian News is not in the practice of undermining the country, our strict consideration of national interest is a cardinal principle for our organisation and staff all over the world.
A visit to our websites and social media handles will present all these facts. If these overzealous agents ever cared to check the facts before embarking on this shameless acts against our staff they would have been convinced otherwise.
If the authorities had issues with the mode the journalists went about gathering materials for their report, the logical thing to do was to correct them as opposed to taking the repressive measures that now strongly suggest that residents of Abuja are being lied to in the territory’s status in relation to the Lassa Fever outbreak or even the deadly Coronavirus.”
They beckoned on the FCT administration to immediately retract its stand on the arrested staff because they are journalists going about their duty to sensitise the general public about the Lassa Fever epidemic across the country.