The Federal Government says it is absolutely false the media report that 26 American arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, on Monday without screening for Coronavirus.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed refuted the report published in front page of a national newspaper, “Daily Independent”, when he appeared on Nigeria Television Authority programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”.
The Minister admonished the media to be circumspect of what they publish and desist from dishing out fake news aimed at frustrating efforts of government and those in the frontline of fighting Covid-19 pandemic.
He said contrary to the report, the 26 Americans were screened by the Port health authority and the immigration while the crews that flew them in and out of the country did not disembark from the aircraft.
“I am aware about the history of the 26 passengers and I have placed a call to the head of Port health services who denied the report.
“We have problem with the crude oil production in the Bonga field, so they made an application for the expatriates to come into the country.
“They need to come and carry out some emergency works on the Bonga field and they arrived yesterday.
“They met with the Port Health Authority and immigration that screened them and we have the records to show that they were screened,” he said.
The Minister explained that the rule on border closure is that if any aircraft must come to the country on emergency, it must come in with two crews for inbound and outbound flights.
“Any flight approved to come into the country now must come with two crews so that there will be no way any of the crew member will get down and interract.
“But if they must come down, they must go into 14 days quarantine,” he explained.
The Minister cautioned the media to desist from publishing fake news that can demoralise those at the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus.
“It is wrong for the media to be publishing fake news that will frustrate the efforts of not just government but the frontline people in this fight which are the health workers,the immigration and others.
“They are the ones that are at the highest risk of infection, when they make those sacrifices, to safe the country it is wrong for a newspaper to report with a banner headline that they did not do their jobs when in actual fact, they did.
“Another implication of this which the newspaper did not know is that they have presented to the entire world, as if Nigeria is not taking this fight serious,” he said.
Mohammed reiterated that a major challenge competing with the concerted efforts at fighting Covid-19 is fake news surrounding the epidemic that have remained unabated.
“When you look at what is going on in the social media particularly WhatsApp platform, you will begin to wonder whether you are in this country.
“I listened to a recording circulating in the social media that the President and the Chief of Staff were smuggled out of Nigeria.
“The woman that originated the fake news was speaking with finality and authority as if she was there.
“As I have said earlier, the President is hale and hearty, and this was confirmed when he made a public broadcast,” he said.
The Minister said that fake news purveyors are always looking for something disparaging about the President and the government.
He said the government will not be distracted, but remain focussed in the fight against the epidemic. (NAN)