Journalists, mostly from online news platforms, were on Tuesday barred from entering the National Assembly to cover the 2018 budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Journalists from PREMIUM TIMES and several other online publications, and some in the print and electronic media, were denied entry into the premises of the National Assembly as early as 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The journalists were stopped despite presenting their official and National Assembly identity cards, as their names were missing from an “accreditation list” prepared by the Research and Information Directorate of the National Assembly.
“That’s the instruction given to us,” a security operative, identified only as Nicholas, told PREMIUM TIMES. “I can’t do anything even if you’ve been covering here for years. My own work is just to check the list. There was a circular and this list was sent to us yesterday.”
One of the journalists denied entry, Damilola Adeniran of Order Paper, said he was at the Research and Information Directorate Monday morning but was not informed of the accreditation issue.
Goodness Adaoyiche of Pulse.ng was equally irritated. “I came to the National Assembly on Monday to find out if there would be accreditation against President Buhari’s coming today but my journalists colleagues said there was none, only for me to come today to meet a list without my name,” she said, frustrated.
The National Assembly also prepared and used a separate list for the legislative chamber where the presentation is expected to hold.
As a result, some journalists admitted at the main gate were still barred from accessing the main venue of the event.
This is not the first time the National Assembly would prevent journalists, mostly from online media, from covering major events.