The Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, Ademola Babalola, on Friday condemned the pre-election violence, which claimed three lives and injured others in Ibadan tasking security agencies to step up security for electorate and staff of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during and after Saturday gubernatorial and State Assembly polls.
The number one Journalist in the state also called for the arrest of the pepertrators of the killings, saying that Oyo State should not be allowed to descend into “war of political thugs” and killing of innocent citizens and residents.
Babalola in a press statement made available to newsmen by the NUJ Secretary, Sola Oladapo, bemoaned the clash between supporters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), on Thursday.
The NUJ Chairman described the development as reprehensible, ungodly and barbaric, which should not have happened at all, if the gladiators had prevailed on their supporters to toe the path of honour and embrace peaceful conducts before, during and after the elections.
While appealing to gubernatorial candidates in the state to caution their supporters to stop violent attacks and counter attacks, Babalola noted that violence could threaten voters turn out and suppress participation in the election.
Babalola said: ‘The senseless attacks and attendant killings of three people in Ile-Titun area of Ibadan South East Local Government of the state ought not to have happened at all.
‘This development has shown that our people are yet to learn their lessons that no blood of any individual is worth the aspiration of any candidate or their corresponding political party.
‘It is a shame and highly reprehensible that despite the peace accord signed by the political parties and their gubernatorial candidates, supporters could still go overboard and engage in supremacy battle to the extent of shedding blood.
‘The NUJ views this development as condemnable, ugly, and ungodly. The security agents should ensure perpetrators of this act are brought to justice. Every life matters and culprits of this despicable act should be made to face the music accordingly,’ Babalola added.
“No candidate should be happy that those they plan to govern are being killed because of power tussle. We, in NUJ, think that politicians should allow electorate to decide their fates at the polls without threats of violence or killings”
Babalola also tasked his colleagues -the journalists to be wary of their “mad rush to break unverified news,” filter and verify sources of their information, and carry out diligent investigation before rushing to the press.
The NUJ Chairman said that the ‘modern day bloggers and social media influencers’ are the worst culprits in this regard, warning them to refrain from being used as tools in the hands of desperate politicians.
Babalola harped on ethics of journalism and professionalism which dwell on objectivity, fairness and factual reportage of events to ward off sensationalism and prejudice that could set the State on fire or allow for a repeat of Rwanda genocide which left many lives wasted.
“As journalists, we should know that Oyo State must exist after elections, and we should embrace conflict sensitive reporting. We should be responsible with our reportage of news.”