By Ovie Okpare
Amidst the growing fears over the Coronavirus epidemic, the Presidency on Tuesday reduced the number of journalists covering State House activities from over 100 to 16 persons.
Several media houses including The PUNCH, AIT, The Nation and Premium Times were affected by this development.
The Presidency said the decision was part of measures at curtailing the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 from affecting more persons.
Recall that Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari was reported to have tested positive to the Coronavirus on Tuesday.
A statement signed by a Deputy Director of Information, Attah Esa, confirmed the development late Tuesday evening.
It directed journalists who were not listed to cover the activities of the Presidency to stay away from the State House until further notice.
The statement noted that security department at the Villa had been directed to enforce the development.
The media houses whose journalists made it on the list are; Chairman, State House Press Corps (Deutsche Wells) – for coordination, NTA crew, Channels TV crew, TVC crew, FRCN reporter, VON reporter, NAN reporter, The Sun Reporter, Thisday Photographer, Leadership Photographer, Daily Trust Photographer, Guardian Photographer and Vanguard Photographer.
The statement further advised affected journalists to liaise with their colleagues for daily reports of happenings at the State House.
“In view of the current restriction in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) against gathering of not more than 50 persons at the same time at any venue, as well as to be able to maintain social distancing following the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, it has become imperative to drastically review down the presence of the over 100 State House Correspondents who usually rendezvous in the Press Briefing Room in the Presidential Villa during this period since all other departments have scaled down the presence of their staff.
“Accordingly, only the under listed correspondents are to enter the Villa for media coverage of any event beginning from Wednesday, March 25, 2020 until further notice as the Covid-19 incidence will dictate.
“During this interim arrangement, we advise those who are not represented in the above list to liaise with those listed for necessary information/news as well as the Information Officers in the President’s Media Office.
“We plead for your understanding and cooperation as the Security Department enforces the restriction measure during this trying period”, the memo read.