Group Urges Journalists to Use FOI Act, Transparency Laws to Expose Corruption

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The International Press Centre (IPC) has called on journalists to utilize the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and other transparency laws to expose corruption and raise the bars of accountability, transparency and good governance in Nigeria

Lanre Arogundade, International Press Centre (IPC) Director

This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of a two-day workshop, entitled: Investigative reporting and methodologies for institutionalizing transparency and accountability in the democratic process organized by IPC on October 9 and 10, 2013. The workshop was supported by United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development project (DGD II).

The workshop featured presentations and interactive discussions that accentuate the importance and relevance of investigative reporting. It covered topics which can enhance the performance of the media’s watchdog role, reduce corruption in public institutions and restore public confidence in the Nigerian media.

At the workshop, participants observed that the challenges of investigative reporting in Nigeria are many and varied ranging from inadequate material resources for sustained research or investigation; hostile political environment to non-compliance with legal frameworks that compel the keeping of public documents and access by the public. Others are poor communications infrastructure, inadequate journalistic skills and weak ethical standards.

They also observed that the lack of independence of the media creates obstacles to investigative journalism when there are political and business interests. However, in reporting news, the media is increasingly overburdened by lack of accountability and transparency in government especially as one scam tends to follow and overshadow another.

To enhance and re-vitalize investigative reporting, the participants recommended that there should be continuous training and retraining for journalists as well as self-development by journalists themselves to raise the standards of professional practice in general and investigative reporting in particular.

Furthermore, the participants agreed that improved remuneration and working conditions should be put in place for journalists. In particular, news mediums should be obliged to cover all expenses incurred by journalists in the course of investigations rather than relying on sources for bribes and payments.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other media stakeholders should continue to act in the defence of press freedom and journalists’ rights. Specifically, they should explore legitimate means to ensure the prompt payment of wages and provision of insurance and other welfare packages for journalists.