The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has said that investigative journalism is crucial to the success of the fight against corruption, saying it has a nexus with the core mandate of the Commission.
He described the role of the media in exposing corrupt practices in the country as “hugely invaluable”.
Magu, who also described the media as the conscience of the nation, stated this in his goodwill message during the opening of a three-day training workshop on “Using Investigative Journalism For The Fight Against Corruption In Nigeria ” organised by Wadata Communications Nigeria Limited in Lagos.
He said: “An investigative journalist is the one who stands out among other journalists; one who does not engage in armchair journalism; one who does not engage in cut and paste journalism or ‘brown envelope’ journalism; but instead, engages in deep, extensive, in-depth and serious research into issues of corruption, while also exposing such corrupt practices.”
Magu stated that as a law enforcement agency, the EFCC values information, adding that: “Whistle-blowing has made tremendous impacts on our operations. The reward for whistle-blowers, for which he or she gets between two and five percent from the Ministry of Finance, is, no doubt, a legitimate way of making money.”
Magu, who lauded Wadata Communication as well as the MacArthur Foundation for its support towards the workshop first in Abuja and now in Lagos, said journalists had very important roles to play, especially as the general election approaches.
He said: “The focus on investigative journalism for anti-corruption and accountability in local languages is, no doubt, appropriate and timely, especially in a country like Nigeria with diverse cultures and languages
“Every Nigerian has an important role to play in ensuring that the coming elections are free and fair.
“Besides, there is an added responsibility of ensuring that the elections are devoid of the now dangerous trend of vote-buying.
“This workshop is, therefore, and opportunity to charge journalists to take up the challenge and devote more time to investigative journalism.”
He described as “laudable”, the partnership between Wadata and MacArthur Foundation to “amplify independent voices to monitor and report on corruption issues using local languages in 12 radio stations across the six geopolitical zones in the country”.
Magu also used the occasion to highlight the two main mechanisms in the fight against corruption employed by the Commission, saying, “The first, which you all are aware of, and which is mostly reported in the media, is the one that involves investigation and prosecution of corrupt persons. This we have intensified since 2015; it is galvanized by the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari to ‘kill corruption, before corruption kills Nigeria’.”
He said: “As you may have read in the newspapers, the EFCC secured a record 312 convictions in 2018 and has been able to alter the narrative that some persons in the society are above the Law.
“In the first week of 2019, the EFCC recorded 5 (five) convictions. We assure you that the record of 2018 shall be surpassed in 2019.”
He said the second mechanism entailed prevention, which is carried out by partnerships with integrity groups and organisations to sensitise the general public on the ills of corruption.
Earlier in his address, Zubair Abdulrauf Idris, Project Team Leader, Wadata Communication Nigeria Limited, urged the participants to also see themselves as stakeholders in the fight against corruption.