By Lubem Gena, Abuja
Worried by the menace of corruption in advancing development of the nation, the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called on journalists not to rest on their oars but redouble their efforts at activities that will expose the illicit practice.
Speaking at the One-Day training workshop for investigative journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the Executive Director of the Centre, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), represented by Mr. Vaclav Prusa maintained that corruption in the form of money laundering has remained a paramount concern for both state and non-state actors.
“Therefore the need for synergy and cooperation between different sectors in entrenching accountability, transparency and true democracy cannot be overstated and the time to lend our voices for a coordinated strategy to end corruption and impunity in our country is upon us.
“The crucial role of the media in identifying, investigating and reporting corruption, and awareness creation is important for nation building and preservation of democracy. They are instrumental in promoting and monitoring hood governance and accountability in the different sectors. They create space for discourse and influence policy direction.
“The United Nations Convention Against Corruption highlights the importance of the media, asks states parties to strengthen the participation of society in the fight against corruption by respecting, promoting and protecting the freedom to seek, receive, publish and disseminate information concerning corruption”, he stated.
He lauded the media for championing the anti corruption crusade through various reportage including hundreds from Nigerians from all walks of life that were hiding money in tax heavens noting that, it was regrettable that the country has not been able to witness reasonable sanctions and convictions against perpetrators.
He pointed out that, as the Nigerian media has challenges such as capacity gap, bureaucracy, non-adherence to freedom of information act, victimisation and lack of support from other agencies, CISLAC has decided to intervene in the situation using the support of Transparency International and European Union.
In project overview, CISLAC’s Programme Officer, Gloria Okwu called on media practitioners to leverage on the existing commitment of the country and the African continent to reveal corrupt practices using ethical standards of the profession.
She also said such commitment should focus on the need to increase public awareness, political commitment to prevent, detect, report and sanction against laundering of corrupt practices.
While presenting the keynote paper entitled: “Ethics of investigative journalism and specifics of reporting financial crimes”, the Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Financial Journalism Lagos, Mr. Ray Echebiri emphasised that the Nigerian media, in spite of all odds have partnered with their colleagues elsewhere to uncover and report corrupt practices within and outside the government.
He further explained Ned that such great job has led to mass action that have accounted for the ever increasing demands for government to be much more open, transparent and accountable to the people.
Goodwill messages were received from TI, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), civil society organisations working on anti corruption projects in which they all appreciated the role of the media in the war against graft and urged it to remain focused in the crusade.
Over 20 journalists who participated from the training cut across the print, electronic and online media platforms.