To make a serious impact against corruption, the Nigerian media must first purge itself of bad elements and become an institution of impeccable moral standards, a former head of Nigeria’s anti-graft office has said.
At a symposium organised by Muslim media practitioners on Saturday, Nuhu Ribadu, who led the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from 2003 to 2007, admonished journalists across the country to appreciate their role in the war against endemic graft.
“Throughout history, media has played momentous roles in different societies to tackle a number of malfeasances, including corruption,” Mr. Ribadu, now a politician, said.
He said Nigerian journalists cannot effectively counter corrupt practices unless they live by example and eschew any acts of immorality.
“As I always say: corruption cannot fight corruption. He who is morally challenged has no moral right to sermonize on morality,” Mr. Ribadu said. “And when the morally deformed person attempts to rise against immorality, hardly would he ever succeed and often he ends up ridiculing such moral responsibility.”
“As a journalist, you should make it a point of principle to never join forces with people you ought to help the public to fight. Above all, fear of God should be the guiding principle always.
He said corruption in the media has become so pervasive that the institution must now purge itself in order to attain a moral status that would aid its efforts in the fight against graft.
“For the media to effectively fight corruption, there must be self-purgation,” he said. “Media should purge itself of corruption and stand up firm on the path of integrity to discharge its function effectively.”
Corruption in Nigerian media has been identified as the bane of the institution for decades.
The most famous form of corruption involves journalists accepting payments or gifts from politicians and businessmen for positive coverage.
Ibrahim Magu, chairman of the EFCC, used his speech at the event to rail against corruption in the media.
Mr. Magu, who was represented by the agency’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said many Nigerian journalists make themselves available to corrupt individuals for pecuniary benefits.
Stories are planted in the media to support a corrupt narrative, Mr. Uwujaren said.
The event, themed: Anti-Corruption: The Role of Media As Change Agents, was attended by personalities in politics, government and media.