INEC Organizes One-Day Zonal Sensitization Forum for Bloggers, Media Practitioners, Accredited Electoral Observers

Participants at the workshop

. . . Warns Against Dissemination of Results of Elections Not Endorse By Electoral Umpire 

By Abuchi Onwumelu

With just two weeks to the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned media practitioners and accredited electoral observers against disseminating results of elections not endorsed by the electoral umpire.

The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC) of the commission, Barr. Festus Okoye gave the warning at the Zonal sensitization forum for the media on the elections.

He explained that announcing results were legally reserved for the Returning officer.

He further warned that anyone caught going into the polling cubicle with a camera phone, which he said aides vote trading, would be checkmated.

The Commissioner underscored the place of proper study of both the Nigerian constitution as amended and electoral acts by the media practitioners.

His words,  ‘The constitution is the fundamental law of the land and all other laws are dependent and flows from its provisions.

‘Electoral acts set out the procedure and processes for the conduct of elections in Nigeria and the third are the regulations and guidelines as well as the manuals issued by the INEC for the conduct of elections.

‘According to 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,’ he said.

Okoye who stressed that media managers must be abreast of the dynamics and nuances of the electoral processes, noted that anything contrary would pose serious danger both to the electoral process and to democracy.

‘Media organisations and observers must also guard against violating the secrecy of the vote by attempting to record how a voter is voting or how the voter has voted even though they were allowed to polling units, collation centres and distribution centres,’ Okoye concluded.

Reiterating the commission’s determination to conduct credible elections that meets international standards, the Commissioner appealed for symbiotic relationship with the media for successful poll.

Earlier, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, enjoined social media users to be factual and objective in their reportage and eschew unconfirmed news.

Orji who was represented by the state commission’s Administrative Secretary, Mr. Charles Ibanaga, described the media as critical towards a free, fair and credible election.

Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner