Anti-graft War: Iredia, Others Urge Media Professionals To Collaborate With EFCC

A former Director-General of the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Tonnie Iredia, has called on media professionals in Nigeria to collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the fight against corruption.

He said effective investigative journalism would enhance the activities of the EFCC, while also making members of the public to be better informed about the corruption war.

He stated this while presenting a paper titled ‘‘Electronic media and investigative journalism: new trends and opportunities “at a one-day capacity-building workshop organised by the EFCC for journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

Iredia, who described the EFCC as Nigeria’s foremost institutional actor in the fight against corruption, stated that investigating journalism could also do a lot to correct the misconceptions about the activities of the Commission.

The former NTA boss added that corruption could be prevented where there was adequate public enlightenment engendered by investigative journalism.

According to him, ‘‘Investigative journalism can create leads for the EFCC to follow. I recently found out that the EFCC recorded 117 convictions in 2013 and 126 in 2014. What this shows is that public enlightenment about the activities of the EFCC is low. But I can tell you that this can be altered where there is effective investigative journalism.”

While talking about ‘‘EFCC’s Attitude to the Media’’, Iredia urged the EFCC not to intimidate journalists, adding that it could lead to poor reportage of its activities.

‘‘If you ignore journalists, this will give room for speculations. Also, if you decide to keep them at an arm’s length, it can encourage sensationalism or misquote.’’
Iredia, who further stated that media practice in Nigeria was handicapped by ownership control, said that the EFCC could not afford to apply ‘‘brown envelope style’’ in its relationship with the media.

Also, Ibanga Isine, an editor with Premium Times, said the fight against corruption would not succeed if there was no direct collaboration between the media and the anti-graft agencies.

Isine, who spoke on ‘‘Journalism and the fight against corruption-Lessons from abroad’’, also stated that media professionals had the capacity to bring corrupt people, in public and private sectors, to justice.

According to him, ‘‘This can be achieved if you use the power in your hands. The problem, however, is that many journalists don’t follow up their stories to the end. In addition, to do an effective investigative journalism, you need some level of madness and courage.’’

Also speaking, Azu Ishiekwene, Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief, The Interview, called for more open reporting of corruption.

Ishiekwene, who presented a paper titled ‘‘Unreported Corruption’’, charged journalists not to ‘’ join the multitude to do wrong.’’

He decried the prevalent obsession with high profile cases by anti-graft agencies, adding that ”little foxes can destroy the entire system”

He further attributed ignorance or fear of reprisal as well as bureaucracy to the several cases of unreported corruption in the country.

Ishiekwene, who advocated greater independence of anti-corruption agencies, added that unreported corruption could ‘‘erode confidence in public institutions, worsen poverty in the land and undermine integrity of any news report.’’

In his address, the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, called on Nigerians to join hands with the Commission in the fight against corruption, in order to have ‘‘a better Nigeria.’’

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