Media practitioners seek review of election code

Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh. PHOTO: PeaceTech Lab

Media practitioners have canvassed a review of the Nigerian Media Code of Elections.

They made the call yesterday at a meeting organised by the International Press Centre (IPC), with the support of the European Union (EU), to review and update the code.

The stakeholders said the review became necessary to curb hate speech, which has become a burning issue in the country, especially ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The meeting focused on section four of the code, which states that hate speech and other forms of incitement could lead to violence and threaten the democratic fabric of a society.

The participants urged journalists to make use of temperate language in reporting electoral processes, among other guidelines.

President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Waheed Odusile, said it was imperative for journalists to adhere to the ethics of journalism.

He said: “The past few years has been challenging for the media, especially with the issue of hate speech,” and solicited a code that guides journalists against hate speech.

The Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh, urged strict adherence to the code of conduct for journalists.

Momoh, who is the President of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) was represented by Mrs. Adeola Olumeyan.

He stressed: “We need to emphasise job security and an improved remuneration for the journalists.

“It is my recommendation that the Code of ethics, which would guide us in the coming 2019 elections, should retain importance clauses such as, editorial, independence, accuracy and fairness, violence, public interest, Privacy, decency, discrimination reward and gratification.”

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, in a goodwill message, said the ministry would support the media to effectively discharge its functions, in compliance with democratic principles and standards.

Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said factual journalism was under threat.

“It is important to emphasise the welfare of the journalists as we discuss credible reporting,” he added.

Secretary, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Ms. Victoria Ibanga, explained that the body was partnering other stakeholders for the training and retraining of journalists.

She added: “The media must desist from bias and fake news reporting.”

The Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said the forum was an important milestone to ensure the credibility and integrity of the media code of election.

Representatives of the Institute of Media and Soceity (IMS), and Radio, Television and Theatre Art Workers also attended the forum.

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