There was strong indication yesterday that many journalists from the print and electronic media, might not get accreditation to cover the presidential and National Assembly elections holding tomorrow in several parts of the country. This has sparked concerns that it may be a deliberate attempt to frustrate as many journalists as possible from getting accreditation to report the exercise and hold the electoral umpire accountable for a free and fair exercise.
Findings by The Guardian yesterday indicate that several media organisations were scrambling to get their reporters accredited in the various Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices across the country whereas the exercise was scheduled to close on February 6.
Media organisations that had submitted their details to the commission for accreditation ahead of the closing date found it difficult to collect their forms at the last hour as some of them encountered different hiccups.
For instance, some media outfits that requested for about 40 accreditation forms for their reporters across the country didn't get more than 10; some got less in some instances while others, at the time of filing this report, were still struggling to get theirs. In other instances, some Lagos-based reporters assigned by their organisations to cover the elections outside their stations also raised the alarm regarding the difficulty in getting accreditation from INEC.
"We sent our details ahead of time but were told at the last minute that we must be physically present at INEC office to collect the accreditation form," lamented one aggrieved reporter. "This is putting many of us in a tight corner just to get accredited to cover the exercise tomorrow. As we are talking, many journalists are yet to get accredited for the exercise."
For instance, The Guardian gathered that in Lagos State, not less than 1,500 applied for accreditation whereas only 600 forms were released by the commission's headquarters in the state out of which foreign media would also be accredited according to a directive from INEC office in Abuja.This is, however, the first time the media would find it difficult obtaining accreditation to cover a national election.