By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in Anambra State, Mrs. Elizabeth Agwu, on Friday ordered journalists out of the venue of presentation of certificate of return to the winners of the House of Assembly elections in the just-concluded 2023 general election in the state.
The journalists, who were at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday morning, were turned black and barred from covering the event, on the order of REC.
The acting Public Relations Officer of INEC, Dr Kingsley Agu, while speaking to the journalists, hinted that the REC would not want to see any journalist around the venue, let alone inside the venue.
According to him, the REC had instructed him not allow journalists into the premises during the presentation.
All calls put to the REC and PRO by the Chairman of Anambra State correspondent chapel, Chief Chuks Ilozue, were rejected.
Reacting to the incident, Chairman of Anambra State Union of journalists, Dr. Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, described the action as highly condemnable.
According to him, INEC is a public institution that must be opened for journalists to cover.
He said, “Let me believe that the REC is not aware about what happened; and if she was aware about the action, it is highly condemnable. I am sorry for INEC because it does not know what it is doing. Journalists are meant to cover public events. And presentation of certificate of return to house members is one of the public events that journalists should be allowed to report for the public to know what happened during the presentation.
“Today has been earmarked for presentation of certificate to those who won election at the just concluded House of Assembly election. Why should journalists be barred, is there anything personal in the presentation that they don’t want the public to know?
“Handing over certificate of return to winners should be an open event that journalists should be allowed to cover. It is condemnable and immature on the part of INEC Anambra state. How could they turn back journalists in an event that is media even when they went with NUJ branded vehicle?
“REC should be able to know what is happening around her office. If she is not aware there is no way the police could turn back journalists who had come to do their legal jobs. The journalists are fourth estate of the realm, who should be respected. Constitutionally, the law allows the journalists to hold the public officers accountable. If the REC barred journalists, it means there is something wrong they want to do at the presentation.”