By Sam Jones, Yenagoa
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos has urged journalists and other media professionals who would be on electoral duty during the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states to take all necessary steps to ensure their personal safety.
The three states go to the polls on Saturday, November 11 and IPC also charged security operatives and other stakeholders in the to protect journalists.
IPC Executive Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, in a press statement on Thursday, said the call became necessary in the light of reported tension and violent conflicts in the three states over which political actors have traded accusations.
The statement signed by Melody Akinjiyan, IPC Press Freedom Officer, quoted Mr. Arogundade as saying, “It is very important for reporters covering the off-cycle governorship election to be safety conscious while discharging their duties, particularly by knowing when and how to retreat from dangerous situations”.
Mr. Arogundade urged the journalists to be non-partisan, dress smartly, not to walk or move alone, wear INEC accreditation tags and carry their organisational identity cards.
He also urged them to cover violent situations from a reasonable distance and retreat as quickly as possible, maintain contact with their editors and close relations and report any threat to the police, their news medium and professional bodies.
Arogundade advised other stakeholders, especially the security agencies, to go about their tasks professionally.
He urged the Inspector General of Police to put measures in place to ensure the protection of the rights of accredited journalists pointing out that the media is a critical part of the electoral process and journalists should be accorded due rights and privileges to enable them carry out their social obligations as partners in electoral credibility.
“Other stakeholders, including election observers should also proactively provide journalists covering the elections with accurate information to ensure that all work together for the success of the elections,” Mr. Arogundade also stated.
He explained that as part of initiatives to keep tab on the safety of journalists during the elections, IPC’s Centre for the Safety and Protection of Journalists would monitor and operate a situation room to be managed 24/7 by press freedom and safety alert officers to whom any journalist who is under threat or attack can report.
They are Melody Akinjiyan (Press Freedom Officer, IPC) – 08132776441 http://bit.ly/IPCALERT1; Olutoyin Ayoade (Communication Officer, IPC) – 08114503887 http://bit.ly/IPCALERT2 and Adeola Olanrewaju (Media Monitor, IPC) – 08128241359
Mr. Arogundade also enjoined journalists to adhere to the IPC safety and professional advisory which was launched during the last general elections to promote safety consciousness among journalists.