Journalists barred from CBN as INEC distributes sensitive materials to 20 LGs in Bauchi

Anxious Journalists who wanted to witness the distribution of sensitive elections materials for the Saturday presidential and National Assembly elections were on Thursday denied entry into the premises of Bauchi Branch Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) venue of the exercise.

The distribution of the sensitive materials by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the 20 Local Government Areas of the state was scheduled to be done today, Thursday.

The Journalists, representing different local and national media Organizations working in Bauchi State from both the broadcast and the print had gone to the CBN to cover the distribution process as several pleas by the Journalists to the security at the gate of the CBN to allow them entry to cover the distribution proved abortive as they said they were carrying out order from above.

Our Correspondent observed that there was a heavy presence of security personnel  within and outside the premises of the CBN with an armoured tank stationed at the gate while within the premises, Tribune Online observed many vehicles of combined team of security operatives comprised of the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and the Department of State Services.

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While speaking with Journalists outside the CBN, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bauchi State Council, Ibrahim Mallam Goje, said he was disappointed with the development and wondered why Journalists who are supposed to be part of all INEC’s processes preparatory to the general elections would be denied entry into the venue where sensitive materials are being distributed to the LGAs.

Mallam Goje said he and the Public Relations Officer of INEC met the Branch Controller of the CBN and asked him to allow the journalists into the venue but he refused saying, “He (CBN Controller) told me that no person, with exception of the security men and INEC officials and political parties, are allowed into the CBN. After insisting severally, he told me that it was an order from the top, so I decided not to persist.”

Mallam Goje further said that “Traditionally, every stage of the process including the distribution is supposed to be done in the presence of Journalists.
“I feel disappointed that my members are supposed to be allowed into every place because they are the eyes and ears of the people.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in Bauchi State, Alhaji Shehu Barau Ningi, has faulted INEC for the distribution of the sensitive elections materials which was done on Thursday.

Barau Ningi who spoke to our Correspondent in front of the CBN in Bauchi said that INEC did not inform the stakeholders that the sensitive materials would be distributed on Thursday saying,  “we would have advised them to wait till tomorrow (Friday)”

He expressed worry over the safety of the materials being distributed to the LGAs saying, “I am worried about the distribution of sensitive materials to the local government areas, it shouldn’t have been today but tomorrow morning”.

He added that “If you distribute today, then the sensitive materials will have to stay in that local government throughout the night till Friday before they are distributed, where would they be kept? At the Police Station? At INEC? We are not comfortable with this arrangement of the sensitive materials distributed on Thursday.”

He, however, expressed satisfaction with the arrangements by INEC especially the security put in place at the CBN to safeguard the materials.