A few weeks ago, a Nigerian journalist uncovered alleged cases of rape and sodomy in a boys’ school in Kano, northern Nigeria. Reporting on a sensitive cultural taboo, the journalist discovered that school officials were aware of the abuse and were actively covering it up.
The journalist is now facing threats against his life for his report.
The 1986 unresolved murder of renowned Nigerian journalist Dele Giwa is back in the headlines after a retired police chief talked to the News Agency of Nigeria, revealing what he knows about the Giwa affair.
“Since 1992, at least 10 journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in Nigeria,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ reveals that the unsolved murders in Africa’s most populous nation make it the second worst country on the continent for combating anti-press violence.
Some journalists came under fire during the 2015 presidential campaign season. Police, armed militants and security forces instigated attacks on reporters.
Investigative storytelling can be a life or death affair in Nigeria. You never know the enemies you will make and how far those enemies will go to silence you.
Nonetheless, passion and a sense of nationalism still motivate a generation of wide-eyed, fresh faced, young journalists to aspire to do investigative reporting.
From the 26th to the 30th of October, I joined 10 other Nigerian journalists in Abuja to listen to presentations about investigative journalism from veteran journalists, Dayo Aiyetan (executive director of the International Centre For Investigative Reporting) and Musikilu Mojeed (managing editor of Premium Times).
The workshop, convened by the Institute For War and Peace Reporting, led us through interactive and practical training on the ethics and practice of investigative journalism. From learning what to do if a government body does not respond to a request brought under the Freedom of Information Act, to discovering how to find details on planes that crashed thirty years ago, to mining federal and state budgets and appropriation data, the facilitators, IWPR and partners (Cleen Foundation, Campaign For Good Governance, Budgit, Partners Global and the US Department of State) delivered a comprehensive and useful workshop.
My foray into journalism began 13 years ago when I was in high school. Since then, I’ve published news and features on human rights, immigrants in the United States, conflict, food security, agriculture, youth development, culture, religion and other topics. Last year was the first time I engaged in investigative reporting with the story, The App That Saved 1,000 Children.
So, I applied for the workshop with clear objectives in mind, as I wrote in my application:
“I am applying for this training in hopes of gaining insights on how to navigates Nigeria’s often-cumbersome official protocols. How does one request for documents? Which ministry/agency handles constitutional amendments? Where can a journalist go to get more information on police brutality?”
Some of the answers to the questions I posed may seem self-evident, but in Nigeria, you cannot take anything for granted and hardly anything is ever as it appears.
The way a reporter goes about investigative reporting in the United States, must work in a different way in Nigeria.
So, I attended this workshop eager to learn and everything I set out to learn, I got from this training.
I decided to Tweet throughout the 5-day workshop, sharing my experience with the online community. Re-tweets and replies to my Tweets indicated that my Twitter followers were also interested in the information I was sharing.
Here are some key moments from the workshop that I captured on Twitter:
“To amplify development issues, go for the extremes.” @jayangbayi
Joshua Olufemi, data journalists at Premium Times
“Reporting corruption means being prepared for the corrupt to throw mud at you,” says @dayoaiyetan Dayo Aiyetan, ICIR
“I’ve been offered 5 million naira ($23,000) as a bribe to not publish a story.” speaker at @IWPR investigative journalism workshop
On the last day of the workshop, we were “certificated” (that’s a dose of Nigerian English for you) and ended with a group photo.
by Chika Oduah