Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has published a manual to aid journalists in reporting impunity in the electoral process during the recently concluded 2015 General Elections in Nigeria as well as in future elections.
Titled “Reporting Impunity in the Electoral Process: A Toolkit for Political Reporters,” the manual identifies and brings together relevant sections of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended pertaining to the conduct of elections in Nigeria and the Electoral Act 2011.
The aim of the toolkit was to help political editors, correspondents and reporters identify and recognize acts of impunity in the electoral process as well as determine that either the Electoral Act or provisions of the Constitution regarding elections was violated with impunity.
While journalists monitor election, certain acts and developments should be recognized as impunity; and reported as such. The toolkit points out actions and inactions of relevant agencies of government as well as citizens that constitute electoral offences as well as the duties of relevant agencies of government before, during and after elections.
It also simplifies and expatiates on the identified provisions of relevant sections in these laws that constitute impunity either by commission or omission thereby informing reporters of what to look out for whenever the nation prepares for and holds elections.
The manual begins with an introduction of the concept of impunity, defines the term and elaborates on the nature and manifestation on impunity.
The manual identifies and elaborates on electoral offences and possible acts of impunity during elections. The manual defines electoral offences and electoral impunity, to aid better understanding of the terms and situations; and reveal offences that may lead to impunity as contained in the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Electoral Act as well as the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.
It goes on to link how the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2011 can enhance reporting electoral impunity by providing insights into understanding the FOI Act. It also delves into how the FOI Act can be used as a tool for fighting impunity and carrying out investigative reporting. It provides a guide to making FOI request with a sample adaptable FOI request letter.
It ends with a conclusion where it makes recommendations by listing steps that can be taken to deal with impunity in the electoral process.
The toolkit was produced on behalf of the SIN Campaign. MRA and the three implementing partners of the Campaign are jointly distributing the manuals to journalists all over Nigeria.
The Stop Impunity Nigeria (S.I.N.) is a collaborative campaign by a multi-stakeholder group of civil society organizations, religious bodies and a Federal Government agency, aimed at re-orienting Nigerians and promoting new ethical values to free the country from the debilitating effects of impunity a cancer that has stunted Nigeria’s social, economic and political development as well as the progress of its people.
The campaign is borne out of a realization that Nigeria’s development challenges are in a large measure the direct result of a culture of impunity which has gradually taken root in all sectors of the society over the last several decades. Impunity continues to fuel corruption by both government officials and ordinary citizens while diminishing the capacity of the government to govern. An endless string of examples demonstrate convincingly that those entrusted with power abuse such powers for private gain, without fear of punishment or any form of accountability.
In addition to MRA, the implementing partners are Human Development Initiative (HDI), Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and Community Life Project (CLP) in partnership with National Orientation Agency (NOA), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).