Heads of renowned investigative news organizations have berated the federal government and anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria over the neglect of investigative corruption reports by various media organizations.
The DIRECTOR of Daily Trust Foundation, Dr. Theophilus Abba led criticisms during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.
While expressing his dissatisfaction on the way and manner corruption stories are swept under the carpet by the past and present governments, Abba stressed that the constitution empowered journalists to hold government accountable but emphasized that the responsibility solely lies with the government and anti-corruption agencies to ensure culprits are brought to book as soon as investigative corruption reports are published.
He revealed that his organization unearthed uncountable corruption in the course of their investigation and wondered why the government will not go after individuals who misuse public funds.
“How can the government put in a minimum of N30 million into a healthcare project and at the end of the day, it is either not completed or abandoned and the people who are supposed benefit from this project don’t access healthcare and no one is punished.”
On the appointment of 40year-old Abdulrasheed Bawa as new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abba urged the new helmsman to do a better investigation to avoid unnecessary embarrassment to the commission, adding that “it is not the age of the EFCC Chairman that matters but his values and ability to resist to be ruined by those who brought him into the position.”
The Chief Executive Officer OF Sahara Reporters, OMOYELE SOWORE stated that government reluctance in acting on corruption investigations was because politically exposed Nigerians are usually indicted in their reports.
According to Sowore, corruption investigations done by Sahara Reporters alone are enough ammunition to put away many corrupt officials if the Nigerian government was genuinely fighting corruption.
“There is a difference between fighting corruption and using corruption to fight enemies of the government. There is also in some cases where they use the fighting against corruption to confuse the fight against corruption.
“you can imagine if when we exposed Gen Buratai he was immediately removed and persecuted, we wouldn’t have lost many lives in Maiduguri, Borno State, and other states because of his incompetence to curtail corruption.”
On the new appointment of Bawa as EFCC Chairman, He said: “I don’t see how Abdulrasheed Bawa can cover much ground no matter how good he might be when he was brought into that position by the Attorney General of the Federation, and I don’t see how Bawa can go anywhere because he will need to go through these guys,” Sowore stated.
On his part, Executive Director of International Center for Investigative Reporting, Dayo Aiyetan averred that from his organization’s experience the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is not ready to fight corruption, lamenting that impunity has gained more ground this time.
Aiyetan stressed that the existence of a ghost Chief Economic Adviser under the nose of President Buhari where millions of naira have been approved over the years was a clear sign of lack of seriousness in the fight against corruption.
He also revealed that many Nigerians exposed to stealing from government coffers by ICIR in the past are currently in the National Assembly and maintained that the media is vital in nation-building anti-corruption war and called on the EFCC Chairman to do all within his power to resist political interference.
Aiyetan stated that one of the significant hindrances to fighting corruption and impunity in Nigeria is the lack of assets forfeiture law.
” Government officials who are stealing public funds use the instrument of state institutions to prevent themselves from being brought to justice. Let the National Assembly come up with an asset forfeiture law, that will be a huge disincentive to stealing public funds,” Aiyetan advised.
While the Chief Executive Officer of TheCable, SIMON KOLAWOLE noted that the inability of the government and anti-graft agencies to take action against officials indicted in investigative corruption reports is tough and demoralizing for journalists, lamenting that out of ten stories published the government may likely react to just one.
Kolawole, however, warned EFCC Chairman, Bawa to avoid media trial because it was making mockery of the Commission’s mandate and charged him to go after corrupt officials in the present government.
The syndicated radio program is produced by PRIMORG with the support from the MACARTHUR FOUNDATION
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