The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has finally released the guidelines for journalists and media organizations accreditation ahead of the general elections.
Naija News understands that is 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 INEC.
These persons include poll workers, party agents, observers and journalists.
This online platform also understands that accreditation is also required for assistants like translators, orderlies, drivers and audio-visual handlers.
Following this development, INEC has approved the following guidelines for journalists and media organizations wishing to cover the 2019 General Elections.
2019 Guidelines for Journalist & Media Organizations Accreditation
1.) 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 INEC National or State offices, (as the case may be) for processing of the applications.
Documents Required for Accreditation
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.
A covering letter on official letterhead paper from the media organization containing the names and duties of officers they wish to be deployed (e.g. Correspondent/Reporter, Camera Operator, Translator, Driver, etc).
Online media organizations and bloggers will be required to provide their website address with evidence of recent posts (i.e regular posts in the last 30 days preceding the date of the application).
Print journalists may be required to present at least three most recent copies of editions of their publications.
Place of Submission of Documents:
The Liaison Officer(s) of National media organizations and those of international/foreign media shall submit their applications to “the Director, Voter Education and Publicity, No 10 Blantyre Street, INEC Annex, Wuse II, Abuja”. Those of domestic media shall submit to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in their respective states of coverage and FCT.
Place of Accreditation
International media organizations and national media organizations who wish to operate across state lines shall be accredited at the INEC Headquarters, Abuja, while media organizations wishing to operate in the states shall be accredited in the respective States offices of the Commission.
Deadline for Submission
Submission of all applications and documents for accreditation will end at 5.00 p.m on Wednesday, 6th February 2019 for both “Domestic Media” and Friday, 8th February 2019 for “Foreign Media Organizations”.
“No submission shall be entertained after 5:00 pm on Wednesday 6th, February 2019 for domestic media and Friday, 8th February 2019 for foreign media”.
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.
Journalists are to:
All accredited journalists are required to display their photo identification tags issued by the Commission at all times during the Polling Day.
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.
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
Observe the deployment of sensitive materials and the retrieval of used and unused sensitive materials after the polling processes.
Journalists are not allowed to:
Film or take photographs of any individual within the polling zone without his/her consent.
Film or photograph any voter marking a ballot paper.
Photograph, acquire pictures, film footage or audio commentary that reveals personal details of the voter.
Film, photograph or copy the Register of Voters, Voter Cards or any other document(s) as would infringe on the privacy of any voter;
Handle any polling material.
General Guidelines for Accreditation
Application for Accreditation:
International and national media organizations intending to deploy journalists to cover the elections nationally or in more than one state shall apply in writing to “The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Plot 436, Zambezi Crescent, Maitama, Abuja through the Director, Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Organizations, INEC Headquarters, Abuja”. Each organization should attach a list of all staff it wishes to deploy.
Domestic state-based media organizations who wish to operate in any of the 36 states and the FCT shall apply in writing to “the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of that state/FCT”.
The applications should also state the names of persons to be accredited to cover Constituency, State or National Collation Centre (as the case may be).
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.
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 ofAccreditation on or before Friday, 8th February 2019.
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.
INEC reserves the right to withhold accreditation for any organization or journalist whose professional identity is not verified.
Only accredited media representatives will be allowed free movement or access to polling units, collation centres, or any INEC office facility.