By Emeka Nwokocha
The National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, has passionately called on INEC to ensure a smooth, free and fair process where the people’s choice would determine who will pilot the country’s affairs for the next four years, stressing that free and fair election is fundamental in strengthening the unity, progress and development of the Country.
Continuing, Comrade Isiguzo appealed to politicians to stop overheating the polity ahead of the election, stating that blackmail, hate speeches, spreading of fake news, use of intemperate language, vote buying and use of violence seriously hurt the polity and undermine the essence of democracy.
He further noted that in furtherance of its roles of promoting descent democratic culture in Nigeria, the Nigeria Union of Journalists’ National Secretariat has opened an Elections Situation Room (ESR) at the headquarters of the Union, in Abuja, ahead of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The National President, who heads the Situation Room, is expected to receive reports from Journalists on acts of impunity against the media, through dedicated telephone numbers which would be provided to all the 36 State Councils of the Union including the FCT.
The President charged Journalists to be on alert at all times while on election duty. He further advised Journalists in the field to work in groups with other colleagues, even as he cautioned them to avoid any area that is insecure and poses threat to their lives.
Isiguzo said, “In realisation of the need to promote safety of Journalists and peaceful elections through professional coverage of elections, NUJ, in collaboration with INEC, and Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), had organised series of workshop on Conflict Sensitive Reporting and the 2023 General Election, for Journalists across the Country last year.”
He appealed to the Federal Government, and all States of the Federation, to take effective measures to ensure better protection of journalists on election duty.
He frowned at the deliberate use of security personnel and/or other freelance non-state actors by those in authority to threaten and/or attack journalists and destroying their equipment.