The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in partnership with the International Media Support (IMS), and in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists, is implementing a rapid response intervention aimed at addressing media safety issues before, during and after the 2019 elections in Nigeria.
The intervention seeks to ensure safety of media workers to enable them produce reliable and professional reporting that contributes to credible and peaceful elections.
Training of Journalists
The intervention begins with a two-day hands-on training on how to provide credible, efficient and professional coverage of the elections while staying safe. In all, 35 senior journalists and editors will benefit from the hands-on training which is scheduled for February 6&7, 2019.
The training will feature both local and international trainers who will build the capacity of journalists to report effectively on election-related issues and how to work with police and security forces. The journalists would also be given training on digital and cyber security issues to enable them secure their online communications during the coverage of the elections.
Cross-country Police Experience-Sharing
The intervention will also provide an opportunity for experience sharing among the Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria Police force on promoting the safety and security of journalists during the electioneering period while maintaining public order.
An experience-sharing forum among the Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria Police will be held on February 7, 2019. Top Commissioners of the Police administration in Ghana and Sierra Leone will share their experiences of election security management from their respective countries with 25 senior officers of the Nigeria Police Force who will be responsible for elections security.
The experience-sharing forum will be followed by a police-media forum on February 8 where senior editors and journalists, officers from the Nigeria Police, senior officers from the Independent National Electoral Commission, and other key actors will discuss modalities for police-media co-operation and safety of journalists during the electioneering period. The forum will discuss working protocols including the possibility of setting up support tools such as a helpline for journalists who may find themselves in difficult situations while covering of the elections.
After the elections, a Post-Election Police-Media Forum will also be held. The forum will bring together media actors and security agencies to discuss the collaboration of the two groups during the elections and to foster greater collaboration between the two groups going forward.
To further strengthen and guide police-media relations and improve the safety of journalists in the country, participants at the forum would discuss and agree on the development of a Framework on Police-Media Relations.
These interventions in Nigeria add to similar ones successfully undertaken by the MFWA, IMS and other partners in Ghana (2016), Liberia (2017), Sierra Leone (2018) and Mali (2018) which contributed immensely to improved relations and collaboration between the police and media before, during and after elections.