Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the security agencies to offer protection for journalists on election duties.
NUJ National President, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, made the call Wednesday in Lafia, at a one-day capacity building training for journalists on Conflict-Sensitive Reporting and 2023 General Election.
The training was organised by NUJ in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to familiarise journalists with some of the innovations to ensure more credible elections in 2023.
The NUJ President who was represented by Dele Atunbi, National Treasurer, said the protection would enable journalists to go round to report election and expose activities that pose threat to the electoral process.
Isiguzo also urged journalists to be professional while performing election duties to properly advance public interests, earn public trust and be watchdogs of the society.
“The pursuit of truth and public good must be the cornerstone of journalism practice in Nigeria, this makes it obligatory for every journalist to maximally comply with ethical principles and professional standards,’’ he added.
The NUJ President also said the training was aimed at equipping journalists with requisite knowledge on what is expected of them during election.
He charged participants to avail themselves of the training opportunity to ensure that a level playing field is provided for all political actors and ensure that people’s votes would count.
“This is the only way we as professionals can advance the course of peace and ensure a credible and peaceful transition in 2023,’’ Isiguzo added.
On his part, Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Registration and Information said the commission was determined towards conducting credible elections in 2023.
The Commissioner also tasked journalists to shun those pedaling misinformation about the innovations by INEC to improve on the quality of the electoral process.
Okoye, however, advised journalists to desist from ethnic and religion profiling, avoid lazy journalism of copying and pasting and sensationalism.
He said journalists should also be wary of declaring results of elections ahead of the of the electoral body as only INEC had the power to declare results.
On the functionality of the electronic device to be deployed for elections, Okoye explained that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), works both online and offline for transmission of result and accreditation of voters.
“BVAS works offline and Section 47 (2) of the Electoral Act makes the use of BVAS mandatory for the commission.
“It works just like when a person send text message from a mobile phone, once it goes, the sender cannot retrieve or alter it.
“The device is used for voters’ authentication, accreditation and transmission of results,’’ he added.
Okoye also advised electorate to be at the polling units on election day with their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVCs) as no one would be allowed to vote without PVC.
He, therefore, added that the attack on the commission’s facilities was a distraction that would not deter them from conducting the 2023 general election.
On his part, Dr Othman Ajidagba, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Nasarawa State, lauded NUJ for the partnership, describing the training as apt.
The resident Commissioner also assured residents of the state of the commission’s determination to conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable elections in 2023.
The training which had in attendance journalists from prints and broadcast media, featured paper presentations on the Electoral Act 2022 and 2023 General Election, INEC’s New Technologies for 2023. General Election and the Media