By Lola Seriki-Idahosa, kaduna..Tracereporters –Ahead of the March 11 governorship and states assembly elections in 28 States including Kaduna, the leaderships of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and Global Peace Foundation Nigeria have appealed to journalists practicing in Kaduna State to Douse Tension and avoid promoting stories that are capable of triggering political violence.

The two religious bodies and other partners appealed at a one-day interactive session organised by Global Peace Foundation-Nigeria (GPFN) in collaboration with Big Minds Communications Consult (BMCC) and Corespondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna State Chapter.

Apart from being the third largest state after Lagos and Kano, Kaduna is one of the Northern states that has recorded the highest number of political violence that has claimed several lives and destruction of properties, especially during the 2011 post-election unrest.

Chairman of CAN in the State and Country Director, GPFN, Reverend Joseph Hayab while delivering his keynote address on “Peaceful Election in Kaduna State with Gubernatorial Candidates” from religious and political perspectives said, media and journalists are key in having peaceful elections in the State.

“To conduct credible, free, and fair elections that would usher in the kind of leaders that the Nigerian public desires, the role of the media is substantial and that leads me to appeal to journalists at this crucial moment, especially in Kaduna state, a state that has experienced devastation in the aftermath of elections in the past, to report in a manner that douses any rising tension than to add to the flames of an already a volatile situation with sensational reporting.

“As it stands, Saturday 11th March 2023 is the day slated for the next election and the governorship vote is considered closer to the people and may attract more attention than the presidential held on 25th February 2023.

“Given the sensitivity of Kaduna state and the resulting experiences of religious tensions in the past, GPFN is calling on Kaduna state people to make use of this election to unite and respect each other’s rights and freedom of choice”, Hayab said.

Also speaking, Secretary, JNI, Kaduna State Chapter, Ibrahim Kefena urged journalists not to create unnecessary political tension in the State because God already knows who will win no matter the circumstances that may play up.

He said, “already, God has decided who will be the governor of Kaduna State. So, why should we fight over an election that God has already concluded even before we go to the polls?

“Journalists should not create tension in the state. I hope whoever emerges the next governor on Saturday should be left to God to judge if he fails to do justice to all of us.

“We are hoping we will have peaceful elections. We hope this and other engagements that have been coming up we help us to have a peaceful election in the state”, he added.

Engaging colleagues on the revised media code for election coverage, a former Director General (Media) to a former governor, Alhaji Ahmed Maiyaki recounted how about 800 people lost their lives while about 65,000 others were displaced due to the 2011 post-election crisis in Northern Nigeria with Kaduna topping the list.

He urged media platforms to ensure equitable access to all contenders irrespective of whether they are contesting on a major or minor political party.

According to him, when access is given to a candidate and the same was not given to the other, “it is a breeding ground for conflict which media and journalists must avoid as captured in the first and most important portion of the revised code.

“Again, the media must practice social responsibility. As a journalist, you are first a Nigerian before you are a journalist and so, you must promote peace at all times because conflict doesn’t know who is a journalist and who is not. You must ensure fairness, balance, and accuracy in your report. You must not report an issue that will generate conflict”, he said.

Earlier, the Chairman, Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kaduna State Council, Abdulgafar Alabelewe said, “this programme was put together to refresh our memories as journalists on the need to promote peace as we approach the 2023 governorship and state assembly elections.

“Though promotion of peace is entrenched in the journalism code of ethics and even in our formal training, we cannot underestimate the need for fora like this to remind ourselves of our roles as nation builders.

“Without wanting to preempt the guest speakers, I want to call on my colleagues in Kaduna state to be conscious of the volatility of our dear state and avoid reportage that is capable of setting the state ablaze”.

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