As the 2023 general elections in Nigeria progress, a vital question on the lips of many is of the validity or otherwise of using smartphones or photographic devices to capture real-time image data of the materials and activities around every polling unit by citizen journals.
To the extent that it cannot readily be seen how such violates the sanctity of election results, why should it be an issue?
One would have expected INEC and government officials to welcome this option which will demonstrate the transparency of an election process that should typically be free and fair.
When dealing with highly volatile contexts such as the presidential election, where unscrupulous politicians and interests resort to all sorts of excesses to outdo opponents and win elections, video and image evidence that perfectly qualify as admissible evidence in law courts ought to be approved for use in citizen journalism which is fast becoming a norm.
The Independent National Electoral Commission recently warned voters that the use of mobile phones or any photographic device inside the voting cubicle to take pictures of the party they cast their votes for would not be allowed.
The National Commissioner and Chairman of INEC Voter Education and Publicity Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, made this known during a news program on Channels Television.
He said anyone caught will be jailed upon being prosecuted.
“No one will be allowed to take his or her phone to the voting cubicle. It is prohibited.
“Officials of the ICPC, EFCC, and security agencies will be on hand to monitor and ensure that the law in that respect is not violated", he said.
If transparency is truly the name of this game, it is yet to be seen how citizens' use of phones and other photographic devices to capture the voting process in real-time violates INEC elections.
As a matter of fact, the stress on the use of ICPC, EFCC, and other security agents for the immediate prosecution of 'offenders' ought to be directed at mischief makers and violent thugs who mess around polling centres.
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