The International Press Centre (IPC) has called on the Nigeria police to provide bulletproof vests for journalists covering the February 25 and March 11 elections.
Lanre Arogundade, the IPC executive director, who made the call on Tuesday in Abuja, said, “Bulletproof, why not, especially for cameramen? If the police can give us bulletproof once we are accredited, we will be happy about that. But beyond that, what we are saying is that on election day, know that your own life matters.”
Mr Arogundade said he did not know “whether that would be a violation of the Police Act, and I don’t know if it is allowed,” but stressed the need “to have this conversation with them.”
The call came in the wake of violent attacks on journalists during political rallies and elections. Presenting the outcomes of the IPC’s analysis of trends in reportage of the 2023 election, Mr Arogundade revealed that 250 journalists were attacked during the 2019 elections in the country.
“Though no journalist was killed on election day in 2019, 250 journalists were molested across the country, including some of them who were accredited, particularly by overzealous law enforcement agencies,” he said, calling on security agencies to protect journalists covering this year’s elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission has also begun accreditation of journalists for the elections.
“So, we are using this occasion to draw the attention of INEC, governments, security agencies, and their own political parties to their own responsibilities if they want us to cover these elections effectively,” Mr Arogundade said.
He also urged journalists to be ethical and professional.
“One thing is that as journalists, we must be ethical, professional and another thing is for a conducive environment to be provided for us,” the IPC director stated. “And that’s why I talked about the need for political parties and government to come together and ensure that we are protected as safety matters.”