As 2019 general elections get closer, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the Police and other security agencies not to stand in the way of accredited journalists deployed to cover the general elections.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC Federal Commissioner in charge of Anambra, Enugu and Benue states made the call at a Sensitisation Forum for the Media in Awka on Friday.
The forum was organised for media practitioners ahead of the 2019 general election.
He said journalists were critical stakeholders in the process and must be granted unfettered access to voting, coalition and distribution centres.
According to him, accredited journalists must also be allowed to inspect all election materials.
The federal commissioner said media managers must be guided by election rules and relevant materials including the 1999 Constitution as amended, Electoral Act 2010 as amended and INEC Regulations and Guidelines to effectively perform the roles.
He said that the public had relied on the media for the right information during elections; hence the need for them to be in tune with the basic rules guiding the process could not be over emphasized.
“It is axiomatic that you cannot give what you do not have. Therefore, to report effectively, media managers must have good knowledge of the dynamics and nuances of the electoral process.
“A media manager that is blank in terms of information or does not read but relies on old order to informing the public is a danger to the electoral process.
“It is a matter of common knowledge that a large majority of the Nigerian people rely on the media for information on the electoral process, so it is fundamental and in the national interest for the media to be on top or be reliable,’’ he said.
Okoye said some political parties were also guilty of not following development in the electoral laws and guidelines adding that all the stakeholders must ensure the process were free, fair and credible.
He wondered why politicians were against continuous accreditation and voting when it was actually suggested and subsequently endorsed by them during commission’s expanded stakeholders meeting in Abuja.
He said the resolution became imperative to forestall the 2015 experience where over 2 million accredited voters were not able to cast their votes due to the clumsiness of the process.