– By Funmi Falobi –
As Nigeria intensifies the fight against corruption, a select of media professionals and civil Society Organizations (CSO) across Nigeria are partnering to bring to limelight, abandoned and hibernating high profile corruption cases under an initiative entitled, “Reporting Until Something Happens (RUSH)”. The initiative which recently commenced with a 3-day CSO/Media case tracking and judicial performance oversight workshop in Enugu aims to increase reporting on hibernating high profile corruption cases in order to engender public demand for speedy completion and as well get the government to prioritizing the cases in its anti-corruption agenda.
Speaking at the workshop organized by the Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by the British Council, Emmanuel Uche, Anti Corruption Programme Manager, Justice for All (J4A) said that since the inception of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), only eight high profile cases have so far been convicted, adding that out of the eight, one was upturned by the court making it only seven convicted, thus there is the is need to bring to the front burner these cases that are either hibernating or gone to sleep in the country.
“Most of the cases with the EFCC are either been stopped, hibernated or swept under the carpet. This can only be so on sheer impunity”, he said. He noted that there is need to empower the media and civil society organizations to take up high profile corruption cases as well as for the judiciary to be up and doing.
“For the anti- corruption campaign to be successful, the judiciary must demonstrate independence, impartiality, integrity, accountability and transparency to sustain the rule of law.
“Judiciary is arbiter of not only democracy but political, social and economic development. Nobody will come to the economy where there is no rule of law, respect for rights. For there to be government of the people, by the people and for the people, there must be a rule of law in place, if not, forget political development”, he added.
According to him: “Judicial systems need to provide timely access to fair and impartial judicial services and uphold the rule of law consistently.”
Similarly, Emeka Ononamadu, Executive Director, Citizens Center for Integrated Development and Social Rights (CCIDESOR) called for synergy between the media and the CSO in the fight against corruption in the nation.
Also speaking, Dr. Walter Duru, Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) urged the media to sustain reportage of corruption and humanize effect of corruption in the society in order to engage citizens in the fight against corruption.