By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos today, tasked journalists and other media professionals on electoral duty during the off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states on Saturday, to take all necessary steps to ensure their personal safety.
IPC in a statement by its Executive Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, also urged security operatives and other stakeholders to protect the journalists before, during and after the election.
The International Press Centre stressed that the call was necessary in the light of reported tension and violent conflicts in the three States over which political actors have traded accusations.
“It is very important for reporters covering the off-cycle governorship election to be safety conscious while discharging their duties, particularly by knowing when and how to retreat from dangerous situations”, he said.
Mr. Arogundade stressed that journalists should during the exercise ” be non-partisan, dress smart, don’t walk or move alone, done INEC accreditation card and have their organisational identity card on as well;
” Cover violent situations from a reasonable distance and retreat as quickly as possible; and Maintain contact with your editors and close relations; and Report any threat to the Police, your news medium and your professional bodies”.
Mr Arogundade then admonished other stakeholders, especially the security agencies to undertake their tasks in a very professional manner.
Speaking further, the IPC Executive Director urged the Inspector General of Police to put measures in place to ensure the protection of the rights of accredited journalists, because the media is a critical part of the electoral process and journalists should be accorded due rights and privileges to enable them carry out their social obligations as partners in electoral credibility.
“Other stakeholders, including elections observers should also proactively provide journalists covering the elections with accurate information to ensure that all work together for the success of the elections”, Mr. Arogundade also stated.
Mr. Arogundade stressed as part of initiatives to keep tab on the safety of journalists during the elections, IPC’s Centre for the Safety and Protection of Journalists would monitor and operate a situation room to be managed 24/7 by press freedom and safety alert officers to whom any journalist who is under threat or attack can report.