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Media urged to support anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption

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Seye Joseph

No doubt, corruption is one of the main banes militating against the development of most developing nations of the world.

Its efficacies lead to ghost workers syndrome in government parastatals, political instability, nepotism, underdevelopment, police extortion port congestion, slow movement of files in offices, traffic and port congestion, election irregularities, domestic and foreign bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and many more.

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2014, Nigeria is up eight places to 136 out of 175 countries ranked by the index. This unfortunate statistics place the country among countries like Cameroun, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, and Lebanon.

In the capacity of the government to fight corruption since 1999 till date when the new democratic government emerged, different anticorruption agencies had been established to fight corruption. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission ICPC was established to rid the country of corruption through lawful enforcement and preventive measures while Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigate reports of corruption with a view to eliminating corruption in public life, educate and enlighten the public on and against corruption and related offences.

Another effort that was made by the federal government in tackling corruption was the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on 14 December 2004 which provides a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to this global problem.

The UNCAC convention aims to promote, strengthen measures to prevent and combat corruption more efficiently and effectively; facilitate and support international cooperation and technical assistance in the prevention of and fight against corruption, including in asset recovery; integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs and public property.

In another effort to get the media involve in the fight against corruption, the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime through one of its projects known as “Support to Anti-corruption in Nigeria” has organised a 3-Day Media Workshop on Anti-Corruption in Nigeria that was funded by European Union and implemented UNODC with media executives to forge a national consensus in the fight against corruption through the use of FOI Act, open data, e-governance and other transparency initiatives.

UNODC is the UN mandated agency that provides assistance in areas related to the prevention and control of transnational organized crimes, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling of migrants and arms trafficking, related crimes such as money-laundering and corruption as well as terrorism in line with the respective UN Conventions and universal instruments.

Speaking during the opening remark, the Outreach and Communication Officer of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Sylvester Atere said that anti-corruption project builds on the achievements of a previous EU-funded project under the 9th EDF support the Federal Government to promote good governance and contribute to Nigeria’s efforts in enhancing transparency, accountability and combating corruption; provide effective support to anti-corruption coordination, policy formulation and legislation, based on a sound evidence base and  strengthen institutional and operational capacity in the nine main anti-corruption agencies, the Police and the Judiciary with an emphasis on cooperation.

Participants at the workshop maintained that media practitioners should be familiar with Anti-Corruption laws, support the enforcement in line with due process, with early consideration and passage of the Whistleblower, Justice Sector Reform and other relevant bills pending before the National Assembly.

Anti-Corruption Agencies were urged to build trust and confidence in the media in the fight against corruption and be strategic in developing strategic communication plans for their operations.

In his presentation, Prof. Lai Osho, Lecturer, University of Lagos said that corruption should not be limited to all levels of governments alone.

“Media organisations should forge a national consensus in the fight against corruption including the use of FOI Act, open data, e-governance and establish anti-corruption desks in their organisations to fight corruption.”

He called on media managers to uphold the ethics of the profession and maintain integrity, promote good governance by upholding its responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution and should not only break anti-corruption news but must stay on the issue.

In the same veil, the Provost of Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Gbemiga Ogunleye called for opening of anti-corruption desk in the newsrooms.

According to Ogunleye, former editor at Punch Newspaper said journalists on anti-corruption desk should be assigned to cover specifically cases on corruption and report the activities of the anti-corruption agencies.

“Such a desk will not depend on press releases from the anti-corruption agencies, as the practice is currently, but will independently, investigate corruption stories”

He also called for the establishment of a specialized court on corruption. “In the 70s, when armed robbery assumed the status of an epidemic, the government had to set up the Armed Robbery and Firearms Tribunal to try only armed robbery cases. So, why can’t we have a special court to try only corruption cases?”

“For the media to bridge the gap in the anti-corruption fight, journalists and media managers must be well-informed themselves not only on the laws guiding the operations of the anti-corruption agencies but also of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he urged.

UNODC, through its Country Office Nigeria, has been cooperating with the Federal Government, its specialized agencies, in particular the EFCC and the judiciary as well as with civil society and the private sector in combating corruption since 2001.

 

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