As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) continues to engage critical stakeholders in the buildup to the 2019 general elections, the Commission has called on the Media to focus on knowledge and fact based reporting and critical engagements with the electoral process.
National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Barrister Festus Okoye, made the call on Wednesday while speaking at training organized by the United States Embassy, Abuja for journalists reporting elections.
Barrister Okoye acknowledged the role of the media as an important stakeholder in the electoral process and noted that “its reports have impactful bearing on the credibility of the electoral process and the stability of the national. INEC therefore expects knowledge and facts based reporting and critical engagements with the electoral process”, he implored”.
The IVEC Chairman pointed out that on Election Day, “accredited media organizations and observers are allowed into polling units, Collation Centres and Distribution Centres. However, it is not permissible to violate the secrecy of the vote by attempting to record how a voter is voting or how the voter has voted”.
He however explained that the media are allowed or permitted to record and use the votes scored by each political party as pasted at the polling units in the Publication of Result Poster, Form EC60 (E).
Barrister Okoye also warned the media and accredited observers to desist from making declaration or announcing results of an election as that is legally reserved for the Returning Officer who makes a declaration and a return.
He said “by Section 123(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) any person who announces or publishes an election result knowing same to be false or which is at variance with the signed certificate of return commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 36 months’ imprisonment”.