by Juliana K. Tauna, Kaduna
As the Lagos bye election is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 5 December, 2020, media practitioners, who will be on duty during the Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II House of Assembly, have been tasked to adhere to professional standards as well as be safety conscious.
The bye elections are scheduled to hold across the five
local council areas
of Somolu, Kosofe, Ikorodu, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos state.
Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, made the admonition, which he said it now be necessary in the light of the critical role that the media plays during electioneering processes and growing concerns over journalists’ safety across the country.
“Though, this election is not a state-wide election, it does not reduce the fact that it still falls under the purview of media electoral responsibility,” Arogundade said.
He made the admonition in a statement signed by the Program Officer/Safety Alert Officer for IPC, Melody Lawal, saying, “For the contestants and its gladiators, it is an election, which is by no means of less value than any other election. So, the atmosphere within the five councils where the elections will take place will reflect basic and essential activities associated with the conduct of an election.
“It is, therefore, very important for journalists covering the bye-elections to be guided by the existing ethics of professional coverage of elections as well as to be safety conscious in the discharge of their duties, especially to avoid situations that will put them in danger,” he said.
“Like in the coverage of any electoral contest, journalists are expected to be non-partisan. They are to maintain objectivity and balance in the coverage of the elections. Being partisan is not only about being a member of a political party, but also includes the use of expressions and/or impressions with statements, tags, symbols and colours that portray or identify with a particular political party or personality,” Arogundade added.
According to him, journalists covering the bye-election to be well kitted. “This is an election taking place across five councils. Journalists, who are to cover the elections should ensure that they are fully kitted and accredited to do so, in order to avoid situation wherein security agents would have to question them or bar them from performing their duties.
He maintained that, journalists, who are not on election duty, should avoid straying into the identified local councils at will during the stipulated period of the election at all times, and journalists covering the bye-elections must have their identification cards and press/media tags clearly displayed to avoid undue harassment and unnecessary identity checks by the security agencies.
He also enjoined other stakeholders, especially the security agencies, to undertake the performance of their tasks in a civil and responsible manner.
“The security forces should note that the media is a critical part of the electoral process. As such, journalists should be accorded due rights and privileges to enable them carry out their social obligations as partners in enshrining the credibility of the electoral process. The media should be seen as partners in progress and not as adversaries,”, Arogundade added.