Don’t assign Inexperienced Reporters to Cover Elections Tribunals -INEC cautions Media Outfits

……200 Associations apply for Political parties registration

By: Ade Adeleke

Journalists, Electoral officials and Scholars on Monday converged on Enugu to review the 2019 general election where it was revealed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has withdrawn the “Certificates Of Return” of twenty-five winners of the last 2019 State assembly and national assembly elections.

At the gathering, INEC cautioned media organisations against deploying inexperienced journalists to cover 2019 election petitions tribunals across the country due to the complicated nature of post-election litigations.

Similarly, the Commission declared that it had received over two hundred applications for the registration of fresh political parties to add with existing ninety-one parties.

The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voters Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye stated this in Enugu at a forum on media coverage of the 2019 general election organized by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in collaboration with INEC.

The INEC commissioner also urged judiciary reporters covering election tribunals to have good knowledge of the relevant laws to save the country from unnecessary political unrest and fatal consequences on petitioners and respondents.

Okoye said, “reporting election petitions, it is important for the gatekeepers in the media and reporters covering the tribunals to have a good knowledge of the processes, the adjudicatory process and procedures in the tribunal are special, different and unique. Slightest default may result in fatal consequences for petitioners and respondents”.

On the applications for new political parties, the INEC National commissioner expressed the need for the National Assembly to alter the 1999 constitution to make registration of political parties more stringent for associations to get registered.

“As am talking to you, over 200 applications from different associations are pending at our National Headquarters seeking to be registered as political parties, we faced a lot of challenges during the last elections, collating results for 71 presidential candidates was a huge task. We have 91 political parties now, and more associations are applying”, he opined.

Okoye said, “Out of the 25, APC candidates were involved in 20 where certificates of return were withdrawn from APC candidates to another APC candidates as a result of court judgements that faulted party’s primaries, APC lost to PDP in Ekiti and Bauchi states and Accord party also benefitted from court judgements ordering INEC to withdraw certificate of return of some winners”.

He said, “Media must use their reports to tell political parties to respect their constitutional provision on electoral process. These court judgements on pre-election matters will continue “.

In a remark, the National President of NUJ, Mr Chris Isiguzo said the forum was organised for the Union’s leaders and journalists drawn from the 17states in the southern Nigeria to examine successes and deficiencies recorded during the last 2019 general election and make recommendations where necessary.

Isiguzo who noted that similar postmortem of the polls had been done for 19 northern states and the FCT, described the Media as critical and unique to any successful elections in the country hence the need for regular interface with stakeholders.

The NUJ President noted that “NUJ ensured that it consulted well with all the stakeholders before the 2019 general election, that was why no journalist was unnecessarily harassed, we collaborated with security agencies, NGOs, CSOs and of course INEC to make the elections successful. INEC should be commended for conducting credible elections, prophecies of Prophets of doom didn’t come to reality”.

In a welcome address, Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.

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