The International Press Centre, Lagos-Nigeria has called on journalists who will be on electoral duty during Saturday’s presidential election to be professional and ethical while also taking their personal safety seriously.
Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said it was imperative for such journalists to present accurate, fair and balanced reports; provide early warning signals of likely outbreak of violence and shun sensational reports.
“We are not saying that journalists should compromise the duty to inform but we are stressing that they should act in the public interest only while reminding them that the code of ethics of Nigerian Journalists, the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage, the Electoral Act and the Nigerian Broadcasting Code all require them to engage in factual and credible reporting”, Mr. Arogundade said.
He said the warning to journalists to take their personal safety seriously had also become necessary in view of recent documented attacks on journalists by political thugs and law enforcement agents.
Mr. Arogundade recalled that at least eleven incidents of attacks on journalists were recorded in January and February this year across the country. The documentation is being done under a project on safety of journalists and emerging issues in conflict in Nigeria by IPC and UNESCO.
“Two journalists were arrested and detained by the Police in Abuja; one journalist was harassed by the Department of State Security Service (SSS) in Yenogoa; one journalist was assaulted by soldiers in Ado-Ekiti; two journalists were threatened to be shot by Security Men in Birnin Kebbi; one journalist was shot by unknown gunmen in Ughelli, Delta State; one journalist was molested by Officials of SURE-P in Lagos; two journalists were stabbed and assaulted by political thugs in Okrika, Rivers State and one journalist was assaulted by a mob in Delta State”, the statement said.
Mr. Arogundade urged journalists to abide with the professional tips as they go about their legitimate duties on voting day.
Such tips, according to him include, reporting “the facts that you are only aware of; be wary of misleading eye witnesses;
“Verify information with relevant authorities or agencies before reporting;
“In case of a dispute, report the different sides and refrain from turning personal opinion into facts;
“Do not don the insignia of any party or candidate even if your proprietors have partisan interests;
“Do not ride in the convoys of politicians;
“Obtain necessary accreditation from INEC and also have on you your organizational Identity Card as well as those of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE); Radio Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU), etc;
“Promptly report any act of intimidation or any form of threat to your Editors, NUJ, NGE, RATTAWU, etc;
“Be impartial and fair;
“Keep safe distance from mobs or violent scenes.”
Meanwhile, IPC charged law enforcement agents not to harass journalists on election duty.
IPC also called on law enforcement agencies, especially the Police, to respect the right of journalists to cover and report Saturday’s elections.
“It is the legitimate responsibility of journalists to provide the public with reliable information on the voting processes and the law enforcement agencies should refrain from assaulting journalists or treating them as busy-bodies who have no business being on the streets on voting day”, Mr. Arogundade said.
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