Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has urged the media to balance their reports.
He made the call while addressing participants at the 12th3 All Nigerian Editors’ Conference ANEC, in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
According to a statement issued by the commission, “INEC welcomes and appreciates constructive criticism which will help us grow since no election management body is perfect. It is however sad to note that some of the reports do not reflect the true state of affairs. It is against this background that the commission is encouraging journalists to always cross check their facts from several channels available to them at INEC before going to press. After all, accuracy is one of the hallmarks of journalism.”
The chairman, who was represented by his Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, noted that the commission is aware of the unprecedented attention and scrutiny it had gotten from the press, following the conduct of recent elections through several articles that had been published or aired on what INEC did or did not do.
Yakubu reiterated the challenges that have hampered the smooth conduct of elections in recent times, which it had constantly spoken against and tried to mitigate. According to him, “the most daunting problem encountered by the commission in conducting elections is violence, which manifests in many ways: physical attack (sometimes leading to unfortunate death) on INEC staff (ad-hoc and regular), intimidation, completion of result sheets under duress and sundry electoral malpractices. At times, violence takes the form of attack on our offices, facilities and public institutions used as polling centres.”
He re-affirmed INEC’s willingness and readiness to conduct elections in any part of the country, but stressed that “the environment has to be conducive for us to perform our duty. Under no circumstance will INEC conduct an election where our permanent and ad-hoc staff, voters, local and international observers, local and international journalists face the imminent danger of being killed or maimed. No election is worth the life of a human being and we take the safety of our staff and all stakeholders very seriously. The commission will never conduct or conclude any election that has not met the minimum threshold of credibility under our laws.
“We have thus always ended up with inconclusive elections in all the areas where violence took place. In instances where the commission could not vouch for the credibility of the process or its outcome, elections were either cancelled in the entire constituency, relying on Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), or in selected polling units, relying on Section 53 of the Electoral Act (as amended)”.

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