Ekiti Polls: Cleen Foundation cautions media against partisan, partial reportage

 Cleen Foundation, an NGO, has cautioned the media against partisan and partial reportage before, during and after the June 18 Ekiti State Governorship Election.Mrs Ruth Olofin, Acting Executive Director of the foundation, gave the caution at a news conference on Friday in Abuja.The conference was focused on the Election Security Threat Assessment (ESTA) carried out by the group ahead of the poll.

Olofin said that abuse of social media, partisanship, favoritism, partiality and sensationalism of the press could mar the election.“Other electoral risk factors identified in our security threat assessment include exclusion of ethnic groups at 68.1 per cent and failure to prosecute electoral offenders 68.1 per cent, abuse of social media 68 per cent and underage voting 68 per cent.“Problems associated with registration and accreditation devices 67.1% and partisanship, favouritism, partiality and sensationalism of the press 67.1%, activities of immigrants and unregistered voters 65.7%.“Conduct of party agents 64.4%, failure of regulatory bodies to enforce media regulations 63.3%, problems associated with continuous voter registration 63%, citizens disaffection with government 62.8%, lack of synergy among security agents 62.2%.“Activities of religious extremists, cultists, armed groups and ritualists 62.1%, the partial or impartiality of the judiciary 61.8%, poor synergy between INEC and security agents 61.2% and miscarriage of justice 61.1%.“All these factors carried an aggregate score of between 60% and 69%,” she said.Olofin urged that the media and other agents should maintain the highest level of professionalism in their conduct by guarding against any form of compromise that could scuttle the democratic process.

 She said that other findings from the ESTA indicates high expectations of peaceful elections in 13 of the 16 LGAs.She said the ESTA also observed other indicators that could engender violence in the election such as partiality of security agents, activities of party thugs, the prevalence of misinformation and fake news.“Aggressive and excessive use of force, partiality of electoral officials, widespread availability and use of hard drugs, undue influence of money, broadcasting and publishing of hate speech, inadequacy or excessive presence of security agents.“Poor training and low professionalism of security agents; these are the most critical factors that could trigger violence in the governorship election,” she said.She, however, noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had put in place measures to address logistics and operational challenges experienced in previous elections as non-sensitive materials had since commenced.She commended the INEC for considering key recommendations from stakeholders such as the conduct of mock accreditation in selected local government areas to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).This she said goes a long way in instilling public confidence in the process in line with democratic values and international beyond practice.She called on all stakeholders, particularly INEC, political parties, media, CSOs, observer groups both domestic and International, and the electorates to play by the rules as set out by INEC.She said that efforts should also be made to educate and sensitize the citizens on the need to eschew all forms of violence in the election, especially with the rise of hate and insightful speeches.Olofin urged INEC and security agencies to prioritize the welfare and professionalism of the personnel deployed on election duty.She said that issues of logistics, timeliness and adequacy of deployment which are of critical significance to the success of an election, be well handled.“Election security cannot be handled with conventional security approaches. Thus, for it to be effective, there must be a collaboration with other stakeholders especially INEC, political parties and CSOs.“Because synergy among these agencies is imperative to the peaceful outcome of the elections,” she said.She said the groups Election Security Support Centre (ESSC) would continue to observe the election in real-time through its deployed 32-citizen observers in the 16 LGAs and would release detailed preliminary and post-election statements on its observations.(NAN)