How The Media Can Effectively Help Fight Corruption | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How The Media Can Effectively Help Fight Corruption

Posted: May 22, 2015 at 12:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The role of the media in the fight against corruption took a leap last week when Justice for All (J4A) gathered stakeholders together at a 2-day training to brainstorm on how to effectively use the pen to fight the menace that has eaten deep into the fabric of the nation. Reporter, Judith Eshemitan writes.

The media can and should play decisive role in the fight against corruption. This was the view of stakeholders, which comprised of Organized Civil Society, and the media at the 2-day Media Round-table on Anti-corruption Reportage which held in Lagos.

The event which was aimed at increasing and sustaining media driven momentum for change and taking full advantage of the emerging capital for change in Nigeria, also saw participants exploring best practice approaches to increase and sustain public awareness on anti-corruption campaign in the country.

Setting the tone for discussion at the event, Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade in a paper entitled, “The Role of Media in Fighting Corruption”, outlined some key roles of the media to include; watchdog of the society by upholding the right of the public to know the truth, setting a public agenda for the institutionalisation of transparency and accountability, accord higher priority to the monitoring and tracking of budget, accord higher priority to monitoring, tracking and reporting of the procurement process, beaming appropriate searchlight on the extractive industries and exercising oversight over transparency institutions and agencies.

According to Arogundade, all journalism codes, principles, guidelines recognise the pursuit of truth as the cornerstone of good journalism.

He said the media holds it as an obligation to monitor governance and hold government accountable to the people as enshrined in section 22 of the 1999 constitution.

The IPC director explained that in the aftermath of the recent general elections, the first step for the media should be to institute democratic accountability through the documentation of the electoral promises of the elected executives at federal and state levels followed by the monitoring of their fulfillment.

He said: “It should be possible for each media outlet to document such promises, but where such is not possible for one reason or the other, the media should walk closely with civil society and international development agencies that have been involved in the compilation and dissemination of the campaign promises”.

“Having done or obtained the documentation, the media should proceed to isolate the ones that directly relates to transparency and anti-corruption”, he added.

Arogundade urged the media to begin a countdown to the pledged public declaration of assets by the president-elect and start asking elected governors with the simple question: Will you follow the president-elect to publicly declare your asset?, adding that this strategy will make the headline news.

He also charged the media to be skillful at accessing information on revenue flows and operations of the petroleum industry; examining the multiple actors along the value chain that incorporates investment, production, pricing, marketing among others and develop skills to look at issues of contract negotiations and interpretation of finances.

“The media should focus on the role and challenges of law enforcement agencies especially the police in fighting corruption. The media should focus on the role of the judiciary in the fight against corruption”, he said

Another discussant and Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda, Edetaen Ojo in a paper titled, “The Media and Performance Oversight of the Judiciary on Corruption Cases” noted that an effective, efficient and corruption-free judiciary is essential for the effective prosecution of corruption cases.

Ojo, said improving judicial efficiency reduces opportunities for corruption in all court proceedings, including in corruption cases.

According to him, a well-functioning judicial system will apply the law in all cases in an equitable, predictable and transparent manner.

He lamented that there have been many reports suggesting that the Nigerian Judiciary often does not measure up to standards, adding that some of the judiciary processes are said to be inhibiting the efforts of the anti-corruption and other law enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders.

He said: “Anti-corruption agencies have also from time to time complained that their efforts at checking corruption are frequently hampered by the courts through: issuing preemptive injunctions to halt imminent prosecution, granting of bail on very liberal terms even in cases involving astronomical amounts of money and where accused persons are usually people of means, slow adjudication of cases with frequent and long adjournments and application of ridiculously low sanctions even in very serious cases of corruption.”

Giving an appraisal of the judiciary, Ojo said there’s hardly any in-depth or systematic assessment and evaluation of the judicial process, especially in the handling of corruption cases.

He suggested that media outlets, individually or in collaboration with anti-corruption Civil Society Organisations or coalitions, should monitor the performance of courts in corruption-related cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Most of these reports, however, have been based on anecdotal evidence. A systematic assessment of the situation could be to undertake a periodic study of how corruption-related offences are handled in the courts. This would produce irrefutable evidence of judicial performance to underpin reform.

“The speed at which corruption cases brought before the courts are decided or the average duration of proceedings in such corruption cases as well as in other types of cases”, he stated.

Ojo concluded that the media can become more professional in evaluating the impact of the courts in the anti-corruption crusade if it adopt or adapt the necessary tools of the profession.

Challenges facing effective media coverage of corruption were highlighted by IPC boss, The duo of Arogundade and Jide Jimoh, of the Journalism Department, Lagos State University (LASU), in their paper, “Identifying and Tracking Obstacles to Effective Media Coverage of

Corruption” stated that while the media is aware of the fact that investigating corruption ought to be a tag of honour and achievement by any serious media organisation, investigative reports are few and far between in the day-to-day staple of the media.