Arua- The Arua district coronavirus disease (COVID-19) task force has banned media from covering its weekly meetings meant to solicit for funds to support their operations.
The decision was reached at on Thursday when the task force which is technically guided by Paul Bishop Drileba, the acting Arua district health officer, raised a red flag over the continued presence of the media in their meetings held every Thursdays.
Nahori Oya, the Arua resident district commissioner who doubles as the task force chairperson confirmed the decision in a telephone interview and said members were not comfortable with the presence of the media during the meetings.
“We have decided that media should not be part of our meetings because they may distort our discussions. Now what was agreed upon is that I will address the media after the meetings myself,” Oya said.
But the decision did not go well with all journalists in Arua who feared that the decision may be geared towards concealing information to the media.
Clement Arua, the chairperson of West Nile Press association said the decision to ban the media was uncalled for since journalists play a key role in informing the public.
“The decision to ban the media from Arua district task force meetings, was very unfortunate. In any case, journalists in West Nile and Arua in particular have been doing their work professionally enough and as a result, their day-to-day operations don’t warrant any fear of distortion of information at all,” Aluma said.
“We are mandated to inform the public on facts and that is what we have been doing. We are all aware that individuals, NGOs and other organizations are raising funds and other material support to the task force through their weekly meetings. Now how will the accountability of these funds reach the public if journalists are banned from covering the meetings?” Aluma asked.
Recently, while addressing the nation on the status of COVID-19 in the country, President Yoweri Museveni referred to the media as being essential and key in the fight against the pandemic.