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INEC charges media, affiliate bodies on neutrality

By David Lawani
The chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has charged the media, journalists and all related affiliate bodies on the need for continuous maintenace of reputation and its unbiased status in the strengthening of the electoral process, in view of the 2023 general elections which is about 162 days from today.

In a remark delivered by the commission’s national commissioner and chairman, information voter education committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, chairman, who represented the chairman during the two-day capacity-building workshop on INECs processes, innovations, preparations for the 2023 general election and critical issues in the Electoral Act 2022 for press corps members held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Lagos, he said the workshop was in partnership with the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN) Programme.
The chairman advised the media to assist in passing good information and enlightenment of the voters on the need to be aware of their rights.

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He said fake news and other forms of misinformation which could spell electoral doom for the nation should not be allowed to take the centre-stage, adding that the role of the media in election management should not be allowed to derail its umpire status, compared to subjecting itself as appendage of political parties.

Mahmood said: “The Commission is conscious of the critical role of the media in our political and electoral process and believes that democracy will only grow and flourish through adherence by the media to professional and ethical standards. Indeed, true democracy cannot exist without effective information flow.

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“Basically, and as established over time, the role of the media, especially the INEC Press Corp, in the electoral process is to:

“Avail the stakeholders timely and relevant information pertaining to the electoral process; carry out voter education and public enlightenment; Mobilise the electorate to participate in the electoral process through awakening in them the consciousness of taking ownership of the political process; Give vent, visibility and life to the programmes and activities of the Election Management Body, with a view updating stakeholders on the developments in the electoral process.

“Publicise information and activities of political parties and candidates, with a view to assisting the electorate make informed decisions and choices; and ensure through their searchlight and reports, that the process and rules of engagement in the electoral system as codified in the electoral legal framework are duly complied with and adhered to.

He added, “The INEC Press Corps is an indispensable partner in electoral process, and they provide a veritable platform and pathway for the dissemination of electoral information to the Nigerian public.

“The commission will continue to collaborate with the press corps in providing the requisite information that enables them to engage the electoral process and educate citizens to make informed choices.”

Okoye assured that the commission will continue to deploy the use of appropriate technology, saying it is the only way to secure and maintain a vote free, fair and credible poll.

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