The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is a regulatory agency and not an advisory body.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, stated this at a workshop for Journalists ahead of Nov. 16 governorship election in Kogi on Wednesday in Lokoja.
Okoye said the commission was only vested with the exclusive responsibility of organizing, conducting and supervising election, stressing that INEC in its mandate was a regulatory rather than advisory agency.
He said that insinuations by some disqualified parties and candidates that the commission ought to have scrutinized their nomination forms and offer advice instead of outright disqualification were misplaced.
The INEC Commissioner noted that parties were expected to ensure due diligence and quality control in their primaries and nominations, saying that the commission only had the responsibility of enforcing provisions of the Constitution and sanctioning noncompliance.
He said parties must get their legal advisers and party organs to vet documents before submitting them to the commission, saying INEC lacked powers to waive Constitutional provisions.
Okoye urged the media to sustain its indispensable status in the task of nation’s building which he described as imperative, adding that the business of conducting credible election was a shared responsibility of all the critical stakeholders in Nigeria including the media.
“Media practitioners are critical stakeholders in the electoral process with Constitutional responsibilities of holding government at all levels accountable to the people and acting as the tribune of the people.
“In performing this national task, the media must in theory, practice and in fact, posses certain skills and capabilities rather than relying on instincts in reporting the electoral process.
“It should not and must not depend on rumours, innuendoes, gossip and fake news in reporting the electoral process and be mindful of its reportage. Every false story and report has national security implication as one false report especially during election can lead to breakdown of law and order,” he said.
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Okoye urged participating journalists at the workshop to take the training very serious in order to avail themselves of the commission’s guideline on election.
Earlier, the INEC Director in charge of voter education and publicity, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi said media as gatekeeper should be able to report appropriately based on the ethics of the profession.