The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has appealed to the media to be objective and transparent in the reportage of the forthcoming 2019 general elections in the country.
This is as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Rivers State government has accused the Nigerian Police of working tirelessly to rig the 2019 general election for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Mr. Obo Effanga, made the appeal in Port Harcourt, on Monday while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Correspondents’ Week of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council.
Effanga, who was represented by the Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Chief Edwin Enabor, said the electoral umpire will be transparent in all its dealings with the media and the electorate.
He said: “Considering the role of the media and strong influence of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the NUJ, which is the umbrella body of journalists practising in the country, the commission wishes to use this opportunity, once again, to appeal to you to assist in ensuring the transparency of the electoral process through correct reportage of events in the country.
“The media should downplay issues capable of having negative effect on the system by engaging within the confines of their profession and the code of conduct for election reporting.
“As the 2019 general election is fast approaching, we have just 90 days, the commission urges you exhibit unbiased reporting before, during and after the elections to avert a breakdown of Nigeria’s democracy.
“The commission on its part pledges to be transparent in its dealings with the media and the electorate throughout the period of the election and beyond. We will continue to regard you not only as critical stakeholders but as partners in progress. We all should work for democracy and ensure that democracy works in our country.”
In his goodwill message, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Emma Okah, accused the Nigerian Police of plotting to rig the 2019 election in favour of the APC in Rivers State.
Okah said: “The media is doing its best in the coverage and reportage of elections. Some security agents are also doing their best. But, the police in Rivers State is hellbent on rigging the 2019 elections for the APC. We have said so and everything is tilting towards that direction.”
Earlier in his keynote speech, the Director-General of Initiative for Credible Election (ICE), Barrister Ledum Mittee, said elections in Rivers State have always been characterized electoral fraud, associated with political tension and violence.
Mittee, who spoke on the topic: “Promoting Security in 2019 Elections: The Role of the Media”, said outcome of elections in the state has been subversion of democratic processes rather than its consolidation.
He said: “As indicated earlier, the history of elections in Rivers State in the recent past has been one characterized by electoral fraud associated with political tensions, crisis, and violence perpetrated by some political actors and unprofessional conduct of some few INEC staff and security agencies.
“The result is that the outcome of elections has been the subversion of the democratic process rather than its consolidation.”