By Peter Uwumarogie, Gombe.
The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Friday called on government and all stakeholders to ensure adequate protection for journalists that will be covering the 2023 elections.
The National President of NUJ, Mr Chris Isiguzo, made the call in Gombe, while speaking during a capacity-building workshop organised for journalists in the Northeast .
He described journalists as critical stakeholders in any election.
Isiguzo said that it was regrettable that over the years, many journalists had either lost their lives, sustained injuries or had their equipment damaged while covering elections.
He said that nothing or little had been done to ensure accountability for attacks on journalists and the media in Nigeria, hence the culture of impunity for such attacks persisted.
Isiguzo, who was represented by Mr Alhassan Yahya, Deputy President of NUJ, said that it was important for stakeholders to work towards minimising attacks on journalists going forward.
The NUJ president added that media professionals could not operate as expected, in the face of fear in the discharge of their work.
“It is, therefore, important that the issue of safety and security be given the needed attention by government and other stakeholders.
“Without doubt, the safety of journalists is absolutely essential, in the pursuit of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens as well as the right to development,” he said
On the training for journalists, Isiguzo stressed that for citizens of the country to actively participate in the democratic process, the media must be strengthened.
He, therefore, said that the training was organised for journalists to improve their professionalism.
On his part, Mr Shuaibu Leman, National Secretary of NUJ, advised journalists to prioritise their safety as they covered next year’s general elections.
Leman said: “In doing your assignment, your primary responsibility is your safety. No politician, no policeman, no INEC official can protect you.
“Your safety lies with you. If you come for assignment and realise that you are not secure, leave that place.
“There is no compulsion for you reporting when your life is threatened,”
The training, which has “Conflict Sensitive Reporting and 2023 General Elections” as its theme, was organised by the NUJ, in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).