In-order to ensure orderliness and the safety of all participants in the electoral process, every person in the polling environment on Election Day will be accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These persons include poll workers, party agents, observers and journalists.
Accreditation is also required for assistants like translators, orderlies, drivers and audio-visual handlers. In the light of this, the Commission has approved the following guidelines for journalists and media organizations wishing to cover the November 16th 2019 Governorship Elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
1. GUIDELINES FOR ACCREDITATION
i. APPLICATION FOR ACCREDITATION
a) International and national media organizations intending to deploy Journalists to cover the elections shall apply in writing to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the affected State. Each organization should attach a list of all staff it wishes to deploy.
b) The applications should also state the names of persons to be accredited to cover Polls, Registration Area, Local Government Area and State Collation Centre (as the case may be).
ii Liaison Personnel:
For purposes of smooth accreditation, Media organizations are required to assign a Liaison Officer to coordinate the accreditation of their nominees. The Liaison Officer will be required to visit the State office for processing of the applications.
iii. Documents required for Accreditation:
(a) Media organizations/ applicants are required to submit, along with their applications two passport photographs of every staff in the list they present to INEC with the name of each person written clearly on the reverse side of the photograph.
(b) A covering letter on official letterhead paper from the media organization containing the names and duties of officers they wish to be deploy (e.g. Correspondent/Reporter, Camera Operator, Translator, Driver, etc).
(c) Online media organizations and bloggers will be required to provide their website address with evidence of recent posts ( ie regular posts in the last 30 days preceding the date of the application).
(d) Print journalists may be required to present at least three most recent copies of editions of their publications.
iv. Place of submission of Documents:
The Liaison Officer(s) of media organizations and those of international/foreign media shall submit their applications to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in their respective states of coverage.
v. Place of Accreditation:
International, national and local media organizations who wish to cover the elections shall be accredited at the state they wish to cover. In this case, organizations who wish to cover the election in Bayelsa shall be accredited by INEC officials at NUJ Secreretariat, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; while those wishing to cover the elections in Kogi State shall be accredited by INEC officials at NUJ Secretariat, Lokoja, Kogi State.
vi. Deadline for Submission:
Submission of all applications and documents for accreditation will end at 4:00 p.m. on Friday 15th November 2019.
No submission shall be entertained after 4:00pm on 15th November, 2019.
vii Issuance of Tags and Kits
Upon satisfactory assessment of application(s), successful applicants will be issued Accreditation tags with photo IDs and kits at their respective places of Accreditation on or before Friday 15th November 2019.
a) Due to limited space INEC will allow only one accredited representative per Radio station and two per television station and newspaper (a reporter and one cameraman) to the Collation Centres.
b) INEC reserves the right to withhold accreditation for any organization or journalist whose professional identity is not verified.
2. RESPONSIBILITIES OF ACCREDITED JOURNALISTS
All accredited journalists and allied staff have the right to cover ALL election procedures within their respective jurisdictions for which they have been accredited. They are required to sign the attendance register for poll officials at the polling unit they cover. However, journalists accredited to cover the elections are expected to strictly abide by all laws and INEC Regulations and Guidelines and all Rules and Codes from relevant Regulatory Bodies as well as the ethics of the profession.
i) Journalists are to:
a) All accredited journalists are required to display their photo identification tags issued by the Commission at all times during the Polling Day.
b) Be at the Polling Unit from the opening of poll on Election Day to observe all stages of the polling process – from voter accreditation, through the voting period, to the counting of ballot papers and pasting of results – provided they do not interfere with polling processes or compromise the voters statutory right to secrecy of his/her vote.
c) Move around the Polling Units as long as their movements do not obstruct the flow of voters or the work of poll officials, interview voters, observers or other persons within the polling environment without interfering with the polling process
d) Observe the deployment of sensitive materials and the retrieval of used and unused sensitive materials after the polling processes.
ii Journalists are not allowed to:
(a) Film or take photographs of any individual within the polling zone without his/her consent.
(b) Film or photograph any voter marking a ballot paper.
(c) Photograph, acquire pictures, film footage or audio commentary that reveals personal details of the voter.
(d) Film, photograph or copy the Register of Voters, Voter Cards or any other document(s) as would infringe on the privacy of any voter;
(e) Handle any polling material.
Note: Only accredited media representatives will be allowed free movement or access to polling units, collation centres, or any INEC office facility.
3. LINE OF AUTHORITY/OBEDIENCE TO LAWFUL DIRECTIONS
Accredited journalists, like everybody else in the polling environment, shall be subject to the directions and control of the Presiding Officer.
INEC reserves the right to withdraw or revoke the accreditation of any journalist at any time, who defies the directives of any Presiding Officer or authorized INEC Official or who violates the provisions of any law, regulation, code or professional codes of journalist practice.
Oluwole Osaze Uzzi Esq,
Director, Voter Education and Publicity
For: Secretary to the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC)