• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Off-season polls: INEC warns stakeholders against fake reports

Off-season polls: INEC warns stakeholders against fake reports

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned stakeholders, including the media, against fake and misleading reports that capable of inciting violence in the country.

The Edo governorship poll is scheduled for September 21, 2024 while that of Ondo State will hold on November 16, 2024.

Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, who gave the caution at the first quarterly consultative meeting with media organisations on Thursday in Abuja, also urged the media and the general public, particularly registered voters in Edo State, to scrutinise the bio-data and credentials of candidates to guide against misleading the citizens.

Read also: Parallel primaries, parties’ infighting disruptive and costly – INEC

Yakubu urged media organisations to engage with political parties as well as their aspirants and report on the primaries with the same diligence and depth they report the main election conducted by INEC.

“Doing so will go a long way to strengthen our democracy since only the products of the party primaries are ultimately placed on the ballot paper for citizens to vote for in the main election. Party primaries are as important as the main election conducted by INEC,” he stated.

For the gubernatorial polls, only 10 parties have uploaded the particulars of their candidates on the INEC portal with only three days left to the deadline ahead of the Edo poll.

Seventeen out of 19 parties have indicated interest in participating in the Ondo governorship election.

Yakubu noted that INEC does not believe in censorship, adding that the antidote to fake news is greater openness and transparency.

“A very important reality in today’s age of information technology is the spread of fake news and misinformation instantly and on a global scale. As I said on many occasions, INEC does not believe in censorship. The best antidote to fake news is greater openness and transparency.

It is in furtherance of this policy that the commission interfaces regularly with stakeholders through our regular consultative meetings. We appreciate our partnership with the media and I want to reassure you that INEC will continue to work closely with you. We welcome your reports, commentaries and analyses on elections in particular and electoral activities in general.

More specifically, some of the innovations introduced by the commission to improve service delivery to the electorate, ensure the safety and security of journalists and grant them unimpeded access to various locations during elections and electoral activities draw from your reports as well as the suggestions and recommendations made during our quarterly meetings. I urge you to continue to be a bulwark against fake news and misleading narratives about the commission and its activities,” he said.

Read also: LG election: Oyo insists on transparency as INEC holds back on BVAS request

Chris Isiguzo the president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, stressed the importance of free, fair, and credible elections in the advancement of the country’s democratic governance.

Charging the media, Isiguzo said, “Let us recommit ourselves to the noble ideals of democracy, accountability, and civic responsibility.

Let us work together to ensure that the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states, as well as future elections, are conducted with the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and transparency has urged media organisations to engage with political parties and observe their primaries.