The media plays a critical role in the fight against corruption, according to Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).
Speaking during separate courtesy visits by a delegation of AFRICMIL to the offices of Leadership newspapers and Premium Times in Abuja, Nigeria, Onumah stressed the importance of the media in bringing cases of corruption to the public and ensuring the success of the whistleblower initiative. “A key element in the ongoing anti-corruption war is the role of the media. Through your reports, the public gets to know the extent to which corruption has destroyed the country and are motivated to take action,” Onumah said.
AFRICMIL is a civil society organization working on raising awareness on the whistleblower policy of the Nigerian government as well as seeking protection for whistleblowers.
According to Onumah, the purpose of the visits was to seek partnership and collaboration with the media in promoting whistleblowing through a project tagged Corruption Anonymous. The project aims at encouraging citizens to partake in the anti-corruption war by adopting whistleblowing as a vital weapon in curbing corruption in both public and private sectors.
He called on the media to use features, editorials and news stories to highlight the need for whistleblowing and ensure the integrity of the process, especially through the protection and safety of whistleblowers.
He recalled the cases of Ntia Thompson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Murtala Ibrahim, two whistleblowers who are still being victimized for reporting wrongdoings in their organisations, and urged the media to focus on these cases in the interest of justice. This, Onumah noted, would help build public confidence in the whistleblower initiative.
In his remarks, Christian Ochiama, Executive Vice President of Leadership Group, observed that “whistleblowing is a good idea.” He promised the organisation would do its best to cooperate with AFRICMIL in creating awareness about the policy. He, however, called for vigilance so that such laudable policy is not abused by mischief makers
On his part, Musikilu Mojeed, Editor-in-Chief of Premium Times reiterated the importance of whistleblowing in ensuring accountability and good governance in the country. Said Mojeed: “It is a very important project. Now that the whistleblower law has gone through the first reading in the House of Representatives, there is need for us to follow the movement of the law.” He stated that Nigerians would need to be educated on the implications of whistleblowing in terms of what it would offer.
He questioned the rationale behind arresting and prosecuting whistleblowers whose information could not yield recoveries through no fault of theirs. He said there was need to critically examine the action which he considered not to be in the interest of justice, and the safety of the whistleblower.
The media engagements were part of AFRICMIL’s whistleblower project supported by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.