Executive Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde has charged media practitioners in the country to take up the challenge of fighting economic and financial crimes in Nigeria through investigative journalism.
Lamorde gave the charge in his opening remark at a workshop for media practitioners with the theme ‘Reporting Economic Crimes’, organised by EFCC at Denis Hotel, Abuja on Monday September 9, 2013.
While thanking the media for being an ally, Lamorde however regretted recent negative profiling of the Commission by a section of the media. “The notion, for instance, that the Commission is selective in investigating persons suspected of committing economic crimes, that only those who have fallen out of favour with powers that be are touched by the Commission, that the Commission has gone to sleep, are unfortunately the creation of the media,” he stated.
The EFCC boss lamented that despite evidences to the
contrary, these negative stereotypes continued to thrive.
“This is sad. Corruption threatens all sectors including the media. I expect the media to lend its investigative skills to helping the EFCC fight corruption and not allow itself to be sucked in by the corrupt and become a pawn in their hands, to undermine the Commission.” Lamorde stated.
In a paper titled ‘Financial and Economic Crimes Reporting: Separating Facts from Fiction’ Martins Oloja, Editor of The Guardian Newspaper called on journalists to report the truth at all times.
He acknowledged the economic challenge faced by journalists but stressed that this should not be an alibi to abandon the time tested universal ethics of the profession.
Oloja advised journalist to go the extra miles in unravelling news behind the news and to always be guided by such qualities as curiosity, integrity, research-mindedness, passion, courage and loyalty to the citizens.
Azubuike Ishiekwene, the Group Managing Director of Leadership Newspapers in his paper entitled, Ethical Journalism and Reporting Economic and Financial Crimes: Realities, Challenges and Ideals, stated that accuracy, fairness, objectivity, impartiality and public accountability are some of the guiding principles journalists must adhere to in the discharge of their duties.
He said that in reporting economic crimes, journalists must consider the issues of accuracy and factual reporting. “The only antidote to threats arising from a presumed libel or slanderous story is fact, because publishers vigorously defend libel lawsuits filed against their reporters, especially in cases where they have proof.”
Ishiekwene however cautions that while truth and facts are sacred, the question as to what harm the news might cause if published should be considered because some news items are sensitive and need to be viewed from a compassionate, private and public perspective.
In her paper, Hajia Sani of the Voice of Nigeria urged participants to be abreast of the new technology-driven tools for news gathering and verification. She regretted that Nigeria still lags behind in the appreciation of the new media and that journalists should be pro-active in the use of internet rather than seeing it as a threat.
Dele Agekameh, Publisher of Capital Magazine, who examined stereotypes and investigative journalism, bemoaned the trend where journalists rely on only press releases for their reportage. “As journalists, we need to go the extra miles because of the danger of integrity which brings about the stereotypical and shallow reports we see today where journalists have become so lazy that they copy what others have written”.
He also condemned the trend where journalists cover up criminals who they are supposed to scrutinize.