Saudi Arabia returnees: Authorities restrict Nigerian media, allow BBC, Reuters

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 Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

SECURITY officers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, stopped some local media professionals from covering the return of a batch of the 802 Nigerians who landed at the NAIA on Thursday.

According to the officers, the restriction was based on the orders given to them by the authorities at the airport.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had disclosed on Wednesday that 802 Nigerians would return from Saudi Arabia on Thursday and Friday.

It said the citizens who were held at various detention centres over migration issues would be received at the NAIA by MFA officials.

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It also said the returnees would be quarantined at the Federal Capital Territory Hajj camp for 14 days in line with the COVID-19 protocols.

A photo journalist with The PUNCH, Olatunji Obasa, said he visited the airport to get images of the returnees but was denied access to the location where Nigerians were.

He, however, noted that the security officials only granted access to journalists with BBC, Reuters, TVC and NAN.

“They said I should go back as no one gave them clearance to allow me in. They also stopped reporters and photo journalists from many other local print media,” Obasa said.

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He added, “I had to step aside so that I won’t have my device smashed again, as my main camera was recently destroyed by security officers at the headquarters of the NIMC here in Abuja and nothing has been done about it till date.”

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When contacted to explain why airport authorities restricted the coverage of the returnees, the NAIA spokesperson, Voke Ivbaze, said she was not aware of the exercise.

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She, however, urged our correspondent not to be offended about the development, as no one informed her that the programme would be taking place on Thursday.

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