The Executive Director of IMS, Dr. Akin Akingbulu who gave the opening remarks on the theme for the day, Edo/Ondo Elections: “The Imper Safety Consciousness and Conflict Sensi Media Converage and Reportage”said mass media should participate actively in covering the elections to provide the best results in coming weeks.
Dr Akingbulu added that journalists must be well knitted for the tasks.
In addition to the opening remarks, the Executive Director of IPC, Mr Lanre Arogundade said the media need the medical professionals to assist the journalists under this COVID-19 period and that journalists should be equipped with the Electoral and broadcasting codes available on the website of the IPC.
The Chief Press Secretary of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi commended the organizers of the zoom meeting, IPC and all the media practitioners for their usual cooperation.
Mr Oyekanmi said INEC is ready to welcome constructive and objective criticism from the media, “INEC is ready for the elections in Edo and Ondo state despite difficult circumstances surrounding the elections, Electoral officers have been trained and adhoc staff are being trained.”
The Program Officer (Journalist safety) IPC, Mrs. Melody Lawal reeled out the statistics of journalists that have either been killed, beaten, harassed by the security agents, individuals and the public numbering 41 that were recorded.
Mrs Lawal mentioned the INEC Chairman proactive measures taken on security in his meeting with Oba of Benin, 14 political parties to sign peace accord.
“We want media to have fair and objective reportage. Politicians have not changed in their desperation, therefore journalists are enjoined to be non-partisan. The hope of the people is to get a peaceful elections, journalists are therefore supposed to be peaceful.”
She advised journalists to be independent, non-bias, make opinion personal and not to endanger their lives by keeping save distance in case of thuggery. Journalists are also advised not go about alone during the election period but to move in groups and not to negotiate classified information with any politician.
“Exercise caution in dealing with security agents, be calm with them because you can never tell if they are compromised or not. If you are attacked, visit the nearest hospital and report to the branch of NUJ in the state. You need to be alive to tell your story,” she concluded.
Dr Clinton Okonye, Caleb University, Imota, Lagos spoke about “Elections under COVID-19 Rules: Addressing Issues of Personal Safety.”
Dr Clinton enjoined all the journalists covering the elections to be abreast oo all the guidelines covering COVID-19 personal safety to prevent exposure to the disease infections which includes the wearing of masks, washing of hands from time to time, avoiding touching of eyes, mouth and nose, maintenance of distance with the next person.
Dr Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu of the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano spoke on “Electoral Conflict and Media Coverage: The Need for Conflict Sensitive Reporting in Edo/Ondo Elections.”
Dr Aliyu rolled out what is expected of every journalist covering Edo/Ondo State governorship elections which includes;
“Ensure safety and professionalism”
“Don’t be overzealous in reporting issues, verify all facts and figures. National interest should be given top priority. Set positive agenda and downplay the negatives and promote peace”
“Uphold journalism ethics in reporting election processes and outcomes and be responsible in engaging voter education. The media is a key actor in causing or curtailing of violent election conflict at any point during the electioneering period.”
“The mass media must live up to its statutory and social responsibilities by upholding ethics and professionalism.”
The zoom meeting was attended by ‘who is who’ in broadcast, print and online media including the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Mr Chris Isiguzo who contributed his comments during the questions and answers session.
The seminar was moderated by Mrs. Funke-Treasure Durodola, Board Member, IPC/Former Assistant Director Programme, FRCN.
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