2023 Elections: Be security conscious NUJ president urges journalists

2023 Elections: Be security conscious NUJ president urges journalists
2023 Elections: Be security conscious NUJ president urges journalists

Ahead of this week’s general election, the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo, has urged journalists to avoid dangerous areas and be vigilant for safety.

In a statement by the National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, Isiguzo advised journalists to exercise caution at all times during their electoral work. Isiguzo advised journalists in the field to work as a team with their colleagues and warned them to avoid any place where they are not safe or afraid.

The NUJ, according to Isiguzo, in realisation of the need to promote safety of journalists and professional coverage of elections, had, in collaboration with the election management body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) organised series of workshops late last year on conflict sensitive reporting and the 2023 general election for journalists across the country.

He appealed to the Federal Government and all states of the Federation to take effective measures for better protection of journalists while on election duty.

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He frowned on a situation where those in authority deliberately use security personnel or other freelance non state actors to threaten journalists or outrightly attack them and their equipment

He also called on the election management body, INEC, to ensure a smooth, free and fair process where the people’s choice will emerge as president of the country. This, he said, is very important and necessary for the unity, progress and development of the country.

He further appealed to politicians to stop overheating the polity ahead of the election through blackmail, hate speeches, spreading of fake news, use of intemperate language, vote buying and use of violence.

He noted that NUJ National Secretariat, in furtherance of its roles of promoting our democratic culture, has opened an Election Situation Room at the headquarters of the union in Abuja, ahead of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The National President, who heads the Situation Room, is expected to receive reports from journalists on election duty on acts of impunity against the media through dedicated telephone numbers to be provided to all the 36 state councils of the union and the FCT.

Meanwhile, Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has denounced the killing of journalist Shashikant Warishe in the Indian state of Maharashtra and Jean-Jacques Ola Bébé of Cameroun. She called on the authorities to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.

“Any attempt to silence journalism must be investigated and prosecuted to preserve journalists’ ability to perform their essential work,”Azoulay said.

Warishe is a journalist for the Marathi-language newspaper Mahangari Times, while Bébé, the second journalist killed in Cameroon this year, was a well-known radio and television broadcaster for several private outlets. He was also an Orthodox Catholic priest. Bébé’s body was found after unidentified assailants had shot him.

UNESCO promotes the safety of journalists through global awareness-raising, capacity building and by coordinating the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

UNESCO’s Observatory of Killed Journalists monitors the killing of journalists and media workers across the globe.

The Observatory makes UNESCO’s work on monitoring and reporting on the safety of journalists, as well as the issue of impunity for these crimes publicly accessible. It forms an essential part of the implementation of the UN Action Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

UNESCO’s mandate to monitor the killings of journalists stems from Resolution 29 on the Condemnation of violence against journalists, which was adopted at the 29th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1997.

The Resolution invites the Director-General to condemn the “assassination and any physical violence against journalists as a crime against society.”

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