COVID-19: IGP contradicts Buhari’s curfew exemption order, ‘directs arrest of doctors, journalists’/ IGP

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has reportedly directed the arrest of workers on essential duties alongside others seen moving about after 8pm when enforcing the ban on interstate movements and the nationwide curfew.

Adamu gave the directive to the zonal assistant-inspectors general of police and state commissioners of police during a virtual conference on Tuesday.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had on April 27 ordered restriction of movements between 8pm and 6am nationwide to check the spread of COVID-19.

Buhari had, however, exempted health workers, journalists and other essential workers from the curfew.

The curfew would later become a subject heated controversies across the country, following allegations that security agencies were

But there have been reports on the breach of the curfew, with security operatives being blamed for poor enforcement.

This, it was gathered, had informed Adamu’s call for strict enforcement of the president’s curfew order.

In a statement issued by Police Spokesman, Frank Mba, said the IGP asked the officers to comply with Buhari’s curfew exemption directive.   

The statement partly read: “All essential workers including medical personnel, firefighters, ambulance services and journalists are exempted from the restriction of movement associated with both the partial lockdown and the national curfew across the Federation.

“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.”

But police sources told PUNCH that the IGP did not asked them to exempt anyone while enforcing the curfew order.

“For your information, a curfew is a curfew. After 8pm, there will be no movement by anybody, including journalists and doctors as well as other health workers. The directive we have received from the IG is that as from 8pm, the question of being on essential services does not arise,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Hours after the IGP’s directive, more than 50 essential workers including journalists and doctors were arrested around Alausa area of Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday while going home.

Some of them were reportedly forced to the police station after arrest while their vehicles were impounded.

A correspondent with the TVC, IVY Kanu, recounted how some of the essential workers were detained at the station.

Her words: “I left the office tonight and on my way, I noticed that the roadblocks had increased. I turned to Alausa and I was picked up. I am at the Alausa police station and you have doctors, essential workers.

“The place is packed. Over 50 people are here and I heard that the new instruction for the next three days is to go after everybody, essential workers and non-essential workers.

“I don’t know how long we will be here. The impounded vehicles are more than 20 and more are still coming in. I don’t know if this is part of a new directive from the federal government or it is over-zealousness on the part of the police officers.

“Some of them have been taken into custody; they have been put into cells and some are standing outside. I was asked to go behind the counter; that was where I was before she (DPO) announced that everybody should come outside and they should hand over our keys and we should sleep in our cars till the next morning.”

The development has continued to generate reactions from several quarters, with many describing the move as undemocratic.

Commenting on it, Director of the International Press Centre (IPC) Lanre Arogundade, called for immediate release of the arrested journalists in a statement.

He said: “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.”