The Independent National Electoral Commission has urged media practitioners to ensure accurate details and facts in the reportage of election matters.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the advice at the 13th Public Lecture of The Electoral Institute of INEC on Wednesday in Abuja.
Yakubu, who was represented by a National Commissioner of INEC, Baba Shetima, said that election matters were sensitive matters, if not accurately reported, may trigger negative or violent reaction from the citizens.
He said that the media had a strategic role to play in how electoral information was accessed, processed, distributed and consumed in Nigeria.
Yakubu said: “While some media houses have tried to apply and conform to the rules of the game, the code of conduct, others have not.
“As we all know, election reportage in the era of social media has taken the centre-space in pattering voter behaviour.
“It therefore, becomes imperative to examine the professional and ethical considerations that underpin electoral media coverage and reportage in producing the desired outcomes in our electoral processes.’’
Yakubu also urged social media practitioners to consider overall national interest, peace and stability of the country, and allow those principles to be the determining or overriding parameters in their reportage of electoral issues.
Yakubu also said: “Just like conventional media, social media should be professional, objective, factual and accurate in its electoral reportage.
“It should not subject itself to the whims and caprices of politicians, neither should it serve narrow interests of individuals or groups.”
He added that INEC was open to criticism and views that would help to improve its activities and electoral service delivery.
The Chairman of the occasion, Ishaq Modibo, also described the media as the life wire of the country.
Modibo, who is also the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Bommission, urged the media to take electoral reportage very seriously.
He stressed the need for the media to get complete details before reporting and ensure that the stories aired were balanced.
The Director-General of The Electoral Institute, Prof. Abubakar Momoh, said the issue of election reportage was key to how people embrace democracy as well as the life of any nation.
Momoh said that the lecture was strategic; saying reporting election matters was one of the very important issues in Nigeria.
He said that the lecture was organised to review the engagement of the media in the nation’s elections, and weather their report had been fair or not.
Momoh said the lecture was also to review how reported issues during elections had contributed to solving political problems or further heated up the polity.
The lecture, entitled: “Media and the Electoral Reportage in Nigeria: An Assessment of Professional and Ethical Issues,” was attended by media executives and practitioners, leaders of political parties and Civil Society Organisations.