By Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that all election presiding officials and other ad-hoc staff for the general election will pass the night at the ward headquarters of the area in which they are to serve as election officials to ensure that logistics problems do not occur and that all polling units open by 8:00am on election day.
This disclosure was made on Tuesday in Abuja by the Assistant Director Broadcast of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Chukwuemeka Ugboaja, while speaking at a training on Election Safety for Journalists organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ).
“INEC officials will sleep in Registration Area Centres (RACs) just like we did in Osun during the governorship election where we achieved 100% in commencing voting process,” he said.
He expressed worry over fake news, saying a situation where people release fake election results before the commission announces the results might not help the process.
The INEC official said that the commission was working closely with security agencies and other committees to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the election process, assuring that polling unit results will be pasted on a board at the polling units.
Prof. Mitchelle Betz, of the MFWA, advised that journalists as eyes of the public must be neutral, saying that their role as Journalists during election is very critical and dangerous.
He advised journalists to work together with security agencies to make sure that they have peaceful elections.
Also speaking at the conference, Prof. Kwame Karikari, said the media need to work with the police to make sure that they do not remain a source of worry to the people during elections.
On his part, former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Press Council, Mr. Bayo Atoyebi, said the police top hierarchy must ensure the safety of Journalists during elections.
The President of NUJ, Mr. Christopher Isiguzor, in his welcome address, stated that the Nigeria Union of Journalists re-affirms that attacks against Journalists and media equipment pose serious threats to press freedom, assuring that the media is committed to paying particular attention to the safety and protection of Journalists.
“The union wishes to stress its commitment to the objectives and principles enshrined in the Abuja Declaration of November 12, 2007 by the Federation of African Journalists, especially as it relates to coordinating actions to improve the safety and security of Journalists and work with international agencies and other stakeholders to confront impunity and build a culture of safety in Journalism’’, he stated.
“We accept that for us to achieve this, we require collective efforts and that is why we are here today engaging the support of the Nigeria Police Force to establish, maintain and sustain a good working relationship.
“NUJ believes that protecting journalists is not treating journalists as a special case but because journalists are singled out and targeted as a result of their noble and legitimate work and that the terrain in which they work is very difficult and prone with so many hazards. Protection and safety of journalists is a humanitarian concern as well as a professional concern, and therefore should be everybody’s concern’’, he further explained.
He appreciated the partnership with the Media Foundation for West African (MFWA) and the International Media Support (IMS) based in Copenhagen and hopes that this partnership will be sustained.
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