As the country gears up for the 2021 general elections, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has reminded journalists of their role in sensitising and mobilising voters to shape the electoral process positively.
“The media can promote free and fair elections through civic awareness, publicising electoral laws, exposing electoral malpractices, fact checking political statements and giving analysis to enable voters make informed decisions,” she said.
This was contained in a speech delivered on her behalf by Parliamentary Commissioner, Hon Safia Nalule during the swearing in of the new executive of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA). The event also had a debate on the theme, ‘Role of the media in promoting free and fair elections’.
Kadaga said that Ugandans expect fairness, accuracy and impartiality from the media when reporting on campaigns, hosting guests or analysing politics.
“I appeal to journalists and all media stakeholders to uphold professional ethics during the election period and at all times,” Kadaga said adding,“I also remind the media to be balanced and gender sensitive while interviewing and profiling female candidates because this area is still wanting”.
In response to a request by the journalists for the expeditious establishment and operationalisation of the Communications tribunal under the Uganda Communications Act, Kadaga pledged to engage President Museveni.
The UPPA president, Moses Mulondo reaffirmed the commitment of media practitioners in promoting free and fair elections, but was quick to add that their rights have often been violated while on duty.
“Uganda Communications Commission and the police force have been implicated several times in violating press freedom. We declare our unwavering commitment to press freedom and will not hesitate to protest acts that violate press freedom,” he said.
Peter Mwesige, the Executive Director of African Centre for Media Excellence challenged the media to pay attention to the quality of the information they churn out to the public.
He called for coverage and debates that are accurate, relevant and provide context.
“What kind of debate is the media facilitating? Is it meaningful dialogue that generates useful information or superficial exchanges for shouting matches that excite rather than inform,” he said.
The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights Representative in Uganda, Robert Ayeda Kotchani expressed concern over the continued arrest and attacks on journalists, where perpetrators of such human rights violations are not brought to face justice.
“Providing accurate and reliable information to the public is not a crime but rather a noble endeavour. Many of you work under principles of professionalism, he said.
He also pledged to join and avail efforts for the establishment and operationalisation of the communications tribunal.
The European Union Head of Delegation to Uganda, HE Attilio Pacifici reaffirmed the EU’s efforts in ensuring a professional, vibrant and safe media space before, during and after the elections.
“Unfortunately, professional Ugandan journalists have often been subjected to harassment, intimidation and physical attacks as a result of doing their job. We renew our call to all relevant authorities to ensure journalists and media workers are protected and allowed to carry out their functions,” he said.
Pacifici also underlined the role of the EU in the electoral process, saying that their participation is nonpartisan and is based on the invitation from the government. “We have not been invited to monitor or observe this election but we commit to support the local observers whenever called upon,” he said.
The Spokesperson of the Electoral Commission, Paul Bukenya called on the media to work with the electoral body to demystify the notion that scientific elections are intended to disenfranchise voters.
“It has confused people and as a result, voter education has become difficult. The media needs to make the public appreciate the environment in which the elections will take place, including limiting gatherings to avoid the spread of Covid-19” he said.
INEC Seeks Amendments Of Constitution, Electoral Act To Shelve Bye Election
Idris Ahmed, Lokoja.
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it is proposing a bill to the National Assembly, seeking amendment of the constitution and electoral act to enable parties replace their elected representatives that die or vacate seat before end of tenure.
Resident Electoral Commissioner for Kogi state, Professor James Akpam, disclosed this at the stakeholders meeting preparatory to the Ibaji state constituency bye election held on Thursday at the INEC office in Lokoja.
He said the bill if considered and passed into law will go a long way to curb cost in the electoral processes of INEC and other untoward activities associated with election in Nigeria.
The Ibaji constituency seat is currently vacant following the demise of Hon. Abah early this year after a prolonged ailment, the Commission is preparing for his replacement through bye election.
According to the Commissioner, INEC has concluded arrangement to conduct a free, fair and credible election in Ibaji, despite the Covid 19 scare as all the pandemic protocols would be observed during the Saturday, December 5 election.
He explained that the constituency has 148 polling units,10 registration areas(RAs), 76,575 registered voters, 96% of which have collected permanent voters cards with 630 adhoc staff, one returning officer, 10 collaboration officers have been recruited and trained for the exercise.
Akpam who also revealed that non sensitive materials have been received from Abuja, added that smart card readers have been configured, the sensitive materials are expected on Thursday for on ward movement to the registration areas.
He explained that during the recent Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo State respectively INEC observed Covid-19 protocols , stressing that voters in next Saturday election in Ibaji must observe protocols to aviod crisis.
The REC pointed out that the social distancing, use of face masks , washing hand and Sanitizers would be strictly applied during the election.
Akpam added that all the INEC Staff would do the same, calling voters to come to various polling units with their face masks.
He stated that that card readers would be sanitized intermittently , saying that immediately a voter is allowed to vote the INEC officers will apply sanitizer on Card readers before the next voter will vote
Breaking: Senator Elisha Abbo Defects To APC, Says PDP Is Finished.
Globaltimesnigeria.com reports that Senator Elisha Abbo has formally defected from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party.
According to the report, Senator Abbo, who represents Adamawa North in the Nigerian Senate announced his defection from the PDP to the APC in a letter addressed to the Senate.
Senator Ahmad Lawan, the President of the Nigerian Senate, read the letter during Wednesday’s plenary session.
In his letter, Senator Abbo explained that his decision to defect to the APC is because of the mismanagement of the PDP in Adamawa state by Governor Umaru Fintiri.
Meanwhile, the name Senator Elisha Abbo became popular amongst Nigerians last year after he made headlines for slapping an attendant in a sex toy shop for ‘disrespecting’ him.
Abbo is a close ally of the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Kogi LGC Election: KOSIEC Set For Free, Fair, Credible Election.
Idris Ahmed, Lokoja.
As the December 12 local government councils election draws nearer, Kogi State Independent Electoral Commision (KOSIEC ) has announced notice of election as contained in the KOSIEC law.
The Chairman of Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission, Mammam Nda Eri who disclosed while briefing Journalists as part of preparedness of the Commission in Lokoja on Monday, said the commission will conduct free, fair, peaceful and credible election.
“Notice is hereby given to all citizens of Kogi State that 2020 Local Government Elections will take place as scheduled on the 12th December, 2020.
“Accreditation and voting shall be done simultaneously and
shall start by 8;00am on the 12th December 2020 and close at 3.00pm on the same day to give room for collation of votes.
“All movements shall be restricted except for those on essential and Election duties. Businesses, markets and shops shall remain closed within the stipulated Election period,” he added
The Commission Chairman also disclosed that the commission will use INEC designated polling units, registers and non sensitive materials and voters card, but card reader will not be used as it is not part of the State Independent Electoral Commission Law.
Eri Explained that voting shall take place at all INEC designated polling stations, noting that loitering shall not be tolerated at Polling zones.
Security agencies are therefore requested to maintain adequate security throughout the period.
The State Independent Electoral Commission wishes all a peaceful Election, but shall not hesitate to countermand the polls where security is breached.
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