By Abasifreke Effiong
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Akwa Ibom State says it has noted the alarming rate at which discussants on media programmes were misinterpreting sections of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Commission appealed to media houses to help stop the trend by preventing guests who do not have sufficient knowledge of the Electoral Act from giving interpretations to the law on their programmes, noting that such act was capable of misleading the public.
INEC called on persons who transferred their registration to the state and new polling units as well as those who applied for replacement of defaced PVCs to pick-up their new cards at INEC offices in their respective local government areas from December 12.
It also appealed to media houses to continue informing the public that collection of PVCs will end on January 22, 2023.
These were contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day workshop on conflict – sensitive reporting organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists and INEC for select journalists in Akwa Ibom State.
Barr. Wilson Nwabude, representative from INEC addressing participants at the one-day capacity building workshop on Conflict- Sensitive reporting for journalists in Akwa Ibom State.
The communique noted that political parties were flouting election guidelines and timelines, urging parties to comply with all the processes for the election and appealed to election stakeholders and actors to avoid inciting comments and hate speech during the campaigns.
“The forum noted series of misinterpretation of provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 by media houses and guests appearing on media programmes, and advised that media houses should always seek clarifications about any provision in the Act whenever in doubt so as not to mislead the public.
“Note was taken about the non-adherence and compliance to electoral guidelines and timelines by political parties, and the forum called for strict adherence to ensure a seamless electoral process.
“Electoral stakeholders and actors were encouraged to avoid inciting statements capable of causing a breach of public peace, order and harmony during the 2023 elections.”
Comrade Okpaka Dokubo – Vice President, NUJ, Zone F, addressing the workshop on behalf of the National President, NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzor.
The communique lauded INEC for the introduction of technology such as the Bi-modal Voters Authentication System (BIVAS), INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV), and online bio-data registration of adhoc personnel recruited for the election, urging the Commission to ensure strict audit of activities of her personnel who will be involved in the electoral processes to nip in the bud all forms of electoral malpractices.
It also urged the Commission to ensure full inclusion of the media in all stages of the electoral processes to ensure proper dissemination of information on the election to the public while also tasking them to forge close collaboration with security agencies to ensure protection of journalists, stakeholders and actors who will be working on election matters as well voters particularly those in riverine communities vulnerable to attack.
Participants at the workshop commended the National President of NUJ, Chief Chris Isizugor and the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Cyril Omoregbe, for organising the training.
Papers presented at the seminar were, “The Electoral Act 2022 and the General Election”, “INEC’s New Technologies for 2023 General Election” and “The Media and the 2023 General Election”.