Practicing journalists in Bayelsa State are set to boycott the coverage and monitoring of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections holding across the nation.
Chairman of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of journalists, NUJ, Comrade Samuel Numonengi made this known while addressing journalists who besieged the press center in Yenagoa to get their accreditation tags for coverage of the general elections.
The chairman disclosed that out of over three hundred journalists whose names were presented to INEC for clearance, the electoral body was only able to provide eighty press tags and kits leaving out over two hundred and fifty journalists stranded and at the mercy of security personnel who have been directed to deal summarily with any truant without due accreditation on election day.
Quoting the Head of Voter Education and Publicity, as saying that the inadequacies are not the state INEC’s fault but based on what was sent from the headquarters to the state.
The issue was raised at Wednesday’s INEC stakeholders meeting which held in Yenagoa but the State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Pastor Monday Tom Udoh and the Administrative Secrtary of INEC, Mr Lebaru Nduh, defended the electoral umpire on grounds of what was made available.
“If your employer gives you instruction on what to do which would you obey? Your own directive or that of your organization? So journalists should be thankful to INEC for even providing them with that eighty press tags and kits for identification rather than ask for more ”
Piqued by this response, the state council of the NUJ rose from an impromptu meeting after several consultations with aggrieved journalists and decided to boycott coverage and monitoring of Saturday’s polls unless INEC retraces its steps and provide journalists with adequate and sufficient security kits to ensure journalists safety and unhindered access to all units and collation centers across centers in the creeks of Bayelsa on election day.
The State NUJ Chairman stated that while Edo State was issued two hundred and fifty press kits, Rivers State got over three hundred.
He wondered why Bayelsa with more journalists than most other states which got higher kits would be short changed.
This he reiterated shall not be tolerated as journalists under his watch cannot be undermined.