A Civil Society Organisation, the Coalition of Whistle-blowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the detention and attacks on some journalists during the just concluded governorship election in Edo State.
The group said this in a statement made available to The ICIR on Tuesday signed by Stephanie Adams, the CWPPF Program Officer.
“In several attacks during the just concluded elections which held on the 19th September, 2020, journalists suffered physical attacks, detention, destruction of work tools and work products and denial of access,” the statement read.
The Coalition stated that it wishes to address in particular, the attacks and detention of Samson Adenekan, a reporter with Premium Times and Nathaniel Offel of GeeTV by thugs for taking pictures and recording videos of the irregularities at the Ward 10 (Uzairue North East), Polling Unit 1 of Etsako West Local Government in Iyamho area of Uzairue, Edo State.
“The actions of the journalists were in no way out of order and according to eyewitnesses, not only were security personnel present during these attacks, they did nothing to intervene or apprehend the attackers,” it said.
“Several other journalists and observers were denied access to their designated monitoring and observation centres. They are Samuel Ajala, Maxwell Osita, and Alamu Dolapo, among others, who were denied access to the collation centre at Okha Local Government by security personnel with no clear reason but which represents a blatant abuse of power and a breach of the constitutional rights of the journalists from performing their statutory functions in an election setting,” CWPPF stated.
The Coalition noted that such actions were a hindrance to a free and fair election which is the ‘crux of a truly democratic state’ and a breach of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It charged relevant authorities to ensure that the aforementioned cases were investigated and culprits brought to book.
The Coalition further demanded the protection of journalists and observers ahead of the October 10 Ondo State governorship elections.
“The Coalition the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should ensure that the protection of journalists and election observers be given priority and that all law enforcement agencies should be mandated to protect journalists and observers during elections to promote a free and fair election and further strengthen the country’s democracy,” CWPPF stated.
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