PRESS YES, JOURNALIST NO!
On the day after the failed coup of 22 April 1990, journalists were invited to a briefing and tour of the badly damaged seat of the Nigerian government, then at Dodan Barracks in Lagos. As was to be expected, given the dramatic and bloody events of the day before, security was very tight.
The guards on duty were under very strict instruction with regard to movement and access control.
One of the instructions given to the soldiers at the gate was that only members of the press were being expected.
Things were going as planned as the expected guests were arriving and being ushered into the waiting area for the briefing and tour to start. And then there was a slight commotion from the entrance into the hall.
Obviously, one of the pressmen (information has it that it was Mr. Feyi Smith) had arrived for the assignment and on being asked to identify himself had told the guards that he was a journalist. The soldiers were said to have refused him entrance, insisting that their instruction was to admit only pressmen.
“Press yes, journalist no!” was how the NCO leading the guards at the gate was said to have put it.
Feyi was, of course, flustered especially as he was a State House Correspondent who ordinarily would have unfettered access into Dodan Barracks.
But this was an extraordinary day under very unusual circumstances.
It took the intervention of a senior military officer and the then Chief Press Secretary to the President to resolve the matter and secure his entry. And for a while thereafter, the joke trended amongst newsmen as to whether one should identify as a pressman or as a journalist! “Today marks the 30th anniversary of the bloody Orkar Coup.”
We remember all the gallant officers who lost their lives in that watershed event and its brutal aftermath. We pray that their souls should continue to journey well.
For us the living, Nigeria, no doubt, remains a work in progress. As my born again friends would put it, may it end in praises. Amen…
Culled from LAGOS JOURNALISTS’ LEAGUE forum!