The Chairman Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, have called on journalists to publish their refuted attempts to access public Information if the organization persists to oblige them such information, using the relevant sections freedom of Information Act, as it will aid in mitigating corruption in Nigeria.
Lamorde who was represented by Mr. Wilson Uwujaren of the Media and Publicity unit of the EFCC, disclosed this at the Young Journalists Forum, 1st Youth Freedom of Information Act Training, which held at the weekend in Abuja, while presenting a paper titled “Mitigating Corruption Through the FoI Act” he noted that, the NUJ should reduce the law to salient points and make them available for journalists, adding that section 1(3) of the Act gives the right to an individual to institute processing in court to compel any public institution to comply with the provisions of the Act, if the information is not made available after seven days, he averred that we have never had any law like this in the past, adding that as journalists you can publish you request for information if the organization involved persistently refuses to oblige you same, then take the necessary steps under the FoI Act.
He insisted that some individuals and even journalists have not taken time to look at that law to know how they can apply it “ we have not taken time to read through it to see the potentials that it entails”, ‘you cannot apply a law if you don’t know what it entails’ he further noted that if you do not know the content of the law you will not know the question to ask, while urging journalists to embark on detailed background research on the subject matter, before going for investigative journalism, so we should take time to study the act to know what it entails, he also talked about the exemptions especially when it concerns national security.
On his part Mr. Victor Aladu, of the Nigerian Press Council, who spoke on the Freedom of Information and the journalists opined that, Access to information is the key to good governance and transparency. Citizens need access to information to effectively participate in governance ; fight corruption ; ensure probity and accountability in the processes of governance ; hold elected politicians accountable for their promises ; monitor public expenditure and execution and influence decisions that impart on the socio economic wellbeing of citizens, while urging journalists to see and use the FoI as a veritable tool in their hands to dig up facts, expose societal ills, fight corruption and bring culprits to book by exposing their evil deeds.
Mr. Aladu, added that the FoI Act will enhance journalism by opening up the media industry to full investigative journalism and objective reporting, it will helps to enhance the constitutional duty of the media to hold government accountable to the people, journalists can monitor service delivery and effectiveness in the ambit of policy, project and execution, it will aid journalists to do factual reporting and eliminate rumour and conspiracy, enhance public debate for participation and governance amongst others.
Also speaking at the event the Chairman NUJ Abuja Council, Comrade Chuks Ehirim appreciated YJF for organizing the training, while urging journalists to sustain the integrity of the profession, and always show commitment to the activities of the council.
The Coordinator of the group Mr. Chukwuma Nzeh in his remark thanked the 6th session of the National Assembly for passing the bill and President Goodluck Jonathan for signing it into law amidst all odds, he said that the act is one of the greatest things that have happened to democracy in Nigeria, while calling on Nigerians especially those in the media to take advantage of the act to ensure a better Nigeria for posterity.
A major highlight was the distribution of the FoI Act, Code of ethics for journalists, and the Press magazine to participants at the event.