CBN bars journalists from covering distribution of sensitive election materials
Action "will give room for suspicion and assumption of foul play, especially from political parties."
By Taofeek Lawal
Working journalists in Kebbi state have been barred from covering the distribution of sensitive election materials kept at the Birnin Kebbi branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) meant for Saturday's gubernatorial and state assembly elections in the 21 Local Government Areas of the state.
Earlier, journalists had been officially invited by the Administrative Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, Muhammad Ahmad Ushama to report at the CBN office in Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday to cover the distribution of sensitive materials to ensure transparency.
At about 9:00a.m, many journalists started arriving at the CBN branch, but they were kept waiting for more than three to four hoursat at the reception area without anybody to attend to them.
When the Deputy Director, Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Muhammad Rabi'u, arrived at the scene at about 12:20p.m. he pleaded with the private security men on duty at the bank branch to allow members of the press into the distribution area .
"I was the one who invited these journalists here today for covering the distribution of sensitive materials. You should allow them to follow me to the distribution point," he said.
Despite all his pleadings, the security men attached to the reception hall remained adamant that they had not received order from the above.
All efforts by the Deputy Director to convince the security men on duty proved abortive. Left with no option, journalists left the branch office of the CBN to carry on with their other daily activities.
Reacting to the development, the Vice Chairman of Correspondents' Chapel in the state, Comrade Umar Faruq expressed dismay over the unfolding scenarios, recalling that similar episode happened in 2019, where the CBN barred journalists from gaining access to the distribution point.
"We are not here on our own, we were invited to come and cover the distribution exercise of the sensitive matarials for transparency and fairness and we deem it as our constitutional responsibility to report to the general public on the happenings of the exercise.
"I don't know why they denied us access to the distribution point; this will give room for suspecion and assumption of foul play, especially from political parties," he said.