The MacArthur Foundation has developed ‘Civic Defense Fund’ to provide protection for journalists who face persecution arising from their whistleblowing role.
The Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation, Africa Office, Dayo Olaide revealed this on Tuesday in Abuja in a goodwill message he delivered during a training programme for journalists on Whistleblowing and whistleblowers protection.
The training was organized by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), a non-governmental organization that focuses on media literacy, information, research, and advocacy, in partnership with the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) and the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) Tuesday in Abuja.
The MacArthur Foundation’s Deputy Director said the workshop was very important given the constitutional role of journalists’ in the fight against corruption.
Olaide highlighted the dangers of investigative reporting and whistleblowing saying, “fighting corruption is not an easy task, that’s why we support investigative reporting and we always warn our partners to be careful and cautious with threats and risks involved”
“Recently, we came together and developed what we called Civic Defense Fund to be able to provide protection for journalists.”
He added that the MacArthur Foundation wishes to see an improvement in investigative reports and active journalism going forward.
Speaking during the workshop, Chido Onumah, AFRICMIL’s Coordinator, said that the use of whistleblowing to fight corruption cannot be overemphasized and remains a strong tool for tackling corruption and other forms of wrongdoing in Nigeria.
Onumah who was represented by Godwin Onyeacholem underscored that journalists are whistleblowers and should entrench the culture of speaking up against wrongdoing as well as standing up for whistleblowers who face victimization and attacks. He also decried the culture of silence amongst citizens and revealed AFRICMIL’s plan to organize a team of lawyers to defend whistleblowers who come under reprisal attack. The Executive Director of PRIMORG, Okhiria Agbonsuremi commended AFRICMIL and MacArthur Foundation for the initiative to train journalists on whistleblowing and the safety of whistleblowers. Agbonsuremi who was represented by PRIMORG’s Program Manager, Adaobi Obiabunmuo urged journalists not to be deterred about fighting corruption using whistleblowing and investigative journalism, stressing that the alternative of keeping mute about corruption is more deadly and not an option.
The facilitators at the workshop were Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, Deputy Editor – Daily Trust Newspapers; Chizoba Ogbeche, Deputy Editor at Blueprint Newspapers and Adaobi Obiabunmuo, Program Manager at Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG).