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NUJ To Members: Stay off Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefings for now

By Taofeek LAWAL, Abuja

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), under the leadership of its chairman, Emmanuel Ogbeche has advised members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 who were present at the burial of the former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, to stay away from the daily briefing for the next 14 days.

Ogbeche in a statement in Abuja on Monday, urged the members of the PTF which has the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and National Coordinator, Boss Mustapha, to demonstrate dignified responsibility by not putting journalists and others who attend the briefing in harm’s way by not attending the COVID-19 briefing for now.

“Following the protocol already established by the PTF and the Presidency in asking all those who attended the funeral rites for the late Mallam Abba Kyari, former Chief of Staff to the President, the NUJ urges in particular, members of the PTF who were at the Defence House and Gudu cemetery, to respectfully not attend the daily COVID-19 briefing until after the 14 days isolation,” the statement read.

The NUJ leader said “anything other than this will further cast doubt on the integrity of the PTF, and put the little gains already achieved in jeopardy.”

Ogbeche however advised journalists at the briefing to protest and if possible stage a walkout if any of the members that were at any of the rites shows up.

He advised the journalists to be responsible for their safety by wearing appropriate PPEs and not become the news in their search for news.

According to him, the council was still calling on media organisations to provide PPEs and hazard allowance to those covering the COVID-19 crisis, insisting that the union will declare an industrial dispute with all organisations that fail in this regard after the COVID-19 lockdown. In the same vein, the Deputy Director, Information, State House, Attah Esa, in a statement released also on Monday called on State House media staff and correspondents who covered the burial of the late Abba Kyari work from their respective in the next two weeks.

The statement read, “As a precautionary measure, all State House Correspondents and Media Office Staff who covered/attended the funeral prayer/burial ceremony of the late Chief of Staff, at Defence House and Gudu Cemetery Abuja, respectively, are strongly advised to work from home for the next 14 days.”

“Please be careful to observe the recommended measures to prevent the coronavirus transmission, including maintaining physical distancing and good personal hygiene going forward.”

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