COVID-19; Journalists threaten to boycott govt activities over stigmatisation

Journalists plying their trade in Akwa Ibom under the aegis of Correspondents Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists have threatened not to cover any of the state government activities following the stigmatization of the media in the state.

On Monday, correspondents were not allowed to cover the swearing-in of 8 new members of the State Executive Council (SEC) and inauguration of elected executive of the State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with both events scheduled to hold at the state Banquet at 12 noon and 3pm respectively.

Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council, Comrade Idongesit Ashameri was not happy about the development, saying it was preposterous that government could bar reporters from performing their duties.

She said it was hypocritical that government could allow party loyalists, well-wishers and members of interest groups to attend the two events even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said that stopping correspondents from covering activities at the Government House because of Covid-19 amounted to stigmatization.

She said the media worked closely with government officials who contracted the virus earlier on, adding that since the journalist are humans, they too are not immuned from the virus. She also said about 16 press corps attached to some prominent government officials were affected by covid-19.

Part of her statement reads: “I got the shock of my life today when I discovered that two prominent events in the State, the swearing-in of the 8 new members of State Executive Council and Swearing in of the new State Exco of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, that no member of the Correspondents’ Chapel was invited to cover that event.”

“And when I probed further I was told that it is because media men have contracted the virus. Who should we really blame? This is a global pandemic ravaging the world and the media are members of the society.”

“The leadership of Correspondents’ Chapel, Akwa Ibom State chapter unanimously, strongly condemn this development, this act of stigmatization.”

“We knew we were taking risks but we felt obligated to our duties to our various organizations. And if this act of stigmatization continues we will be left with no other option than to boycott state government activities”.

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