Tackling Institutional Corruption through Investigative Journalism
Suntai DI1* and Shem W2
1Department of English and Literary Studies, Taraba State University, Jalingo, Nigeria
2Department of Mass Communication, Taraba State University, Jalingo, Nigeria
- *Corresponding Author:
- Suntai DI
Department of English and Literary Studies
Taraba State University, Jalingo, Nigeria
Received Date: Apr 26, 2018; Accepted Date: May 02, 2018; Published Date: May 14, 2018
Citation: Suntai DI, Shem W. Tackling Institutional Corruption through Investigative Journalism. Global Media Journal 2018; 16:30.
Copyright: © 2018 Suntai DI, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Corruption has become the bane of national growth and international business transactions. It has permeated both the developed and developing nations and Nigeria is not exempt. In Nigeria specifically, corruption has permeated virtually every sector of the economy - from the public to private sectors, from religious leaders to the congregation. So, devastating is the effect of corruption that is has assumed the metaphor a hydra-headed “cancer warm” that has ravaged the fabrics of our societal institutions and the psyche of stakeholders of various sectors. This situation has generated great concern among the citizenry and motivated this write up. The purpose is to explore the subject and proffer ways by which corruption could be effectively tackled. Adopting content analysis (corpus) as an instrument for generating and analyzing conceptual and empirical data, and using Social Responsibility theory as a framework, the writer has come up with the view that investigative journalism, if properly deployed could serve as arsenal to mitigate corruption if not stifle it completely. The paper suggests among other things that, where a matter that necessitates investigation is expedient or crucial, but accessing vicarious data proves critical, daunting or hazardous, an investigative, the journalist could resort to syndicating with security agents to elicit cover, but never divulge his scoop.
Corruption; Investigation; Syndicating;
Brown envelope syndrome
Corruption has over the years become a subject of concern
in media studies and other fields such as the economy, political
science among others. It is obvious that there are several
reasons that fuel this mounting research interest. The first
reason is to understand the nature and causes of corruption
because it is impossible to investigate and combat corruption
without the full knowledge of how it operates. The second reason is to strategize how to minimize or, if possible, totally
eradicate corrupt practices.
The word “corruption” is, more often than not, associated
with third world countries where nepotism, bribery and
misappropriation of funds are gradually becoming an
acceptable culture in both public and private sectors. However,
no country can be said to be corruption immune because the
phenomenon is ubiquitous. It is a fact that the bureaucratic
bottle-necks in institutions of African countries (Nigeria
inclusive) have immensely contributed to the
underdevelopment of these countries; thereby leaving their
populace vulnerable. Corruption is one phenomenon that is
currently pervasive in the Nigerian financial system; and
virtually all other sectors.
Nigeria, which is one of Africa’s most populated and
productive countries, is strategically located in an
advantageous position to exploit its potentials. Therefore, the
fight against corruption must be one of the topmost priorities
of the Government at all levels and investigative journalism
has a crucial role to play in this fight .
Amidst the theories that abound in the communication
corpus, the researcher considers the social responsibility
theory and the agenda-setting theory as the appropriate or
suitable framework for this study. The social responsibility
theory which was propounded by Siebert, Peterson and
Schramm in the mid-19th century rests on the notion that
media outfits and journalists should accept and fulfil certain
obligations to society. This automatically mandates journalists
to investigate corrupt practices and also to ensure accuracy,
objectivity and balance in discharging their duties. To put it in
another way, suffice it to say that investigating social ills such
as institutional corruption among others is a social obligation
to every responsible journalist. Therefore, it is axiomatic to say
that there is a nexus between the selected theory and this
study since corruption is the bane of social growth and social
responsibility theory imposes on a crusading journalist the task
of a garrison. Also, the watchdog function that the media is
saddled with is subsumed under social responsibility.
Conversely, Asemah  notes that the agenda theory was
propounded by Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. The theory
says the media (especially the news media) are not always
successful at telling us what to think but are quite successful at
telling us what to think about. The theory argues that the
media are saddled with the responsibility of monitoring events
happening in the society and reporting such events to the
members of the society. This simply connotes that the media
are the watchdogs of the society. To put another way, the mass
media are responsible for drawing our attention to salient
issues in the society via news and other informative
programmes. In drawing our attention to these issues balance,
objectivity and fairness must be considered on the side of the
The nexus between this study and the agenda-setting theory
is that investigative journalism has a propensity to unravel
salient issues which form part of public agenda.
Conceptual Explication of Corruption
There is no single and clear definition of corruption because
it is multifaceted . Notwithstanding, this work recommends
that corruption can be defined as any form of a deliberate
effort by officials in public or private sector to illegitimately
acquire unmerited riches though abusing their official
authority. This doesn’t mean that corruption is only limited to
officials in public and private sectors because even an
unemployed individual could be corrupt. In that context,
therefore, corruption is any insincere behaviour that
undermines the ethical standard of a society.
Asemah and Asogwa  describe a corrupt system as a
system characterized by infrastructural decay, lack of
patriotism, subjugation of collective interests, improper
implementation of policies and programmes and a disconnect
between vision and its realization. However, World Bank in
Begovic  sees corruption as the “abuse of public office for
private gain.” From this definition, it would be erroneous for
one to assume that corruption doesn’t exist in the private
sector because it does exist, more especially in large private
Transparency International, cited in Organization for
Economic Co-Operation and Development Glossary, maintains
that “Corruption involves behaviour in which officials in the
public sector, whether politicians or civil servants, improperly
and unlawfully enrich themselves, or those close to them, by
the misuse of the public power entrusted to them. “Corruption
in modern societies usually surfaces in two different
dimensions which could be individual or institutional. These
two facets of corruption have an enormous adverse effect on
the development of a democratic society, hence exploring
these two areas is of utmost significance to a country like
Nigeria that is bedevilled with serious cases of corrupt
According to Thompson  “Individual corruption occurs
when an institution or its officials receive a benefit that does
not serve the institution and provides a service through
relationships external to the institution under conditions that reveal a quid pro quo” motive. Thompson further notes that
individual corruption has to do with personal gain or benefit
by a public official in exchange for promoting private interests.
Perpetrators of individual corruption always have a motive of
abusing their official power so as to make personal profits via
stealing. Individual corruption is the most common and
renowned facet of corruption that is given priority in Nigeria.
Institutional corruption is one facet of corruption that is
enormously hazardous to a democratic society but yet often
jettisoned by journalists and anti-corruption agencies. The
reason for that is that priory attention is often given to
individual corruption as though it were the only facet of
corruption in existence. The term “Institutional corruption”
was first coined as a theory by Dennis F Thompson in order to
explain a phenomenon that he believed the Congressional
ethics rules failed to address. Thompson believed that the
congress diverged from its proper purpose not as a result of
the lawmakers’ wronging but due to the influence of general
systemic failures of the legislative process .
Dennis Thompson’s theory is principally tilted towards
differentiating individual corruption from institutional
corruption. Newhouse  states that Institutional corruption
does not necessarily involve individuals who engage in illegal
or unethical conduct Instead, “institutional corruption” in the
context of legislative ethics refers to the state of affairs in
which political benefits such as campaign contributions,
endorsements, organizational support, or media exposure are
made available to lawmakers under conditions that, in general,
tend to promote private interests at the expense of the
legislature’s public purpose. Thompson  confirms that
institutional corruption occurs when an institution or its
officials receive a benefit that is directly useful to performing
an institutional purpose and systematically provides a service
to the benefactor under conditions that tend to undermine
procedures that support the primary purposes of the
Thompsons’s description of institutional corruption can be
rephrased thus; institutional corruption is a situation where an
institution (private or public) deliberately deviates from the
sole aim at which it was established, thereby, betraying the
public trust. For instance, if a university was established for the
purpose of research and learning and it happens that, that
university ended up making a profit its priority, and neglecting
the sole purpose for which it was established then that
university is institutionally corrupt.
The simplest way to identify institutional corruption is to
know the purpose of an institution and to ascertain whether
the institution is working towards accomplishing that purpose
or not. Newhouse notes that the differences between
individual and institutional corruption are:
• The nature of the incentives that cause the institution to
deviate from its purpose, and
• Whether the deviation is the result of individual choice or
It is paramount to note that an institution such as the
media, ministry of health or any order organization could be institutionally corrupt but yet some of its employees might not
be corrupt. Investigating institutional corruption, as earlier
stated, is often jettisoned by investigative journalists and anticorruption
agencies. Thompson  corroborates that:
institutional corruption does not receive the attention it
deserves partly because it is so closely (and often unavoidable)
related to conduct that is part of the job of a responsible
official, the perpetrators are often seen as (and are)
respectable officials just trying to do their job, and the legal
system and public opinion are more comfortable with
condemning wrongdoing that has a corrupt motive. Yet
institutional corruption, which is usually built into the routines
and practices of organizations, is usually more damaging to the
institution and society than individual corruption, which in
advanced societies typically consists of isolated acts of
misconduct with effects limited in time and scope.
It is obvious that the present state of public institutions in
Nigeria is deplorable considering the fact that most of these
institutions have deviated from their main purpose of the
establishment. Therefore, there is the urgent need to combat
this endemic disease called institutional corruption.
Manifestations of corruption
As earlier discussed, corruption is multifaceted; hence it
often appears in different forms in an organization. Suntai 
outlines the following as forms of corruption.
Bribery: This form of corrupt act entails exchange between
corrupt parties with the sole aim of gratifying each other’s
Fraud: This has to do with the use of deceitful or tricky
tactics to cheat others
Embezzlement: It has to do with misappropriation of funds.
Here the perpetrator steals from the public treasury with the
aim of accumulating riches.
Extortion: This form of corruption is commonly obtainable
in the educational sector. Here the perpetrators use coercive
means to extract resources from others.
Electoral corruption: This has to do with manipulation in
the electoral process. Here election results are rigged while
unlucky ones get killed during the process.
Favouritism: This has to do with bias in the distribution of
government resources. However, many see it as a natural
tendency to favour friends, family, anybody close and trusted
Causes of corruption
There are many causes of corruption in modern societies of
which lack of motivation of employees can be considered as
one, although Mills argues that “a well-paid public-sector
manager will have different personal pressures than a counter
clerk or a politician and may still be susceptible to corruption.
Notwithstanding, Enste and Heldman  maintain that “In
investigating the causes of corruption, salaries of public officials can also play an important role”. Supporting the above
assertion Van Veldhuizen  affirms that higher wages might
seem fairer to the bureaucrats, making it morally harder for
them to hurt their employer, or the government, by accepting
Another factor that encourages corruption is lack of free
press that would checkmate the excesses of public office
holders and politicians. “A high quality, uncensored press
sheds light on misuse of power and makes it more difficult to
engage in it undetected” . According to Transparency
International , an independent media is “a vital pillar of
national integrity and good governance”.
In his view David , sees greed as a catalyst that fuels the
menace called corruption. Onongha  describes greed as an
inappropriate mind-set that is linked with a self-centered
attitude of acquiring wealth. However, No claims that “Greed
based corruption emanates from the insatiable desire to have
more than is needed for survival”. Noor further notes that
actors involved in such corruption, mostly have sufficient
means, for areas on able living, but insufficient moral
In précis, Afolabi, cited in David , outlines the following
as the causes of employee theft:
Motivation: Certain habits which predispose individuals to
steal include high personal debts, gambling, peer group
pressures, excessive use of alcohol or drugs and living far
beyond one's means.
Equity: Employees who are exploited by way of poor wage/
remuneration are likely to steal. It can be argued however, that
corruption cuts across remuneration barriers since among
those who started being corrupt early in life, are some who
still find it convenient to subsidize their living through
fraudulent practices, when they attain higher socioeconomic
positions in life.
It is also sad to note that some of the most corrupt
individuals in Nigeria are actually the very top public officers
who are indeed very well remunerated.
Management attitude: If management encourages god
fatherism in the work place, or does not respond to crimes
promptly and decisively, corruption will thrive in the
Societal value system: Nigerians accord a lot of respect to
material wealth regardless of how it has been acquired. Little
attention is paid to morals, and it is often said that if you
cannot beat them, join them”, it is generally believed that the
end justifies the means. Getting a job this days is not the
question of merit but of connections. The few among the
citizenry who get themselves enriched through foul means are
also always under pressure from their friends, and relatives to
share out the loot, thereby perpetuating the vicious circles.
Effects of Corruption
Corruption has adverse effect on governance, democracy
and the economy of a nation. International Monetary Fund  argues that “corruption reduces public revenue and increases
spending; it thus contributes to larger fiscal deficits, making it
more difficult for the government to run a sound fiscal policy.
According to Maduegbuna, quoted in Sowunmi et al. ,
the effects of corruption in Nigeria include loss of government
revenue, negative national image, poor governance, brain
drain, electoral malpractices, poor investment climate,
business failure, unemployment and poverty. Judging from the
above, it is therefore, sufficient to say that corruption is a
contributing factor to the current dwindling nature of Nigeria’s
economy which is characterized by high rate of
unemployment, inflation, fluctuation of workers’ wages, and
continual depression in the value of the naira and the
attendant increase in the cost of living which affects the
communication industry .
Other effects of corruption are:
The lingering inhuman activities by terrorist groups in
Nigeria are caused by corrupt actors. This scenario has ignited
incessant fear in many Nigerians. Suntai  corroborates that
corruption causes insecurity of lives and property of the
citizens as evident in several Boko Haram attacks.
Naturally no reasonable investor would like to spend in an
environment that has prevalent cases of corrupt practices. In
support of the above, Stopple, cited in Sowunmi et al. ,
avers that corruption worsens the investment climate, and
undermines competitiveness of national economies.
Corruption’s impact on foreign investment is considered to be
particularly harmful for a developing economy.
It is axiomatic to say that investigative journalism became
renowned in 1972, when two reporters from the Washington
Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, alongside their
mysterious informant, Deep Throat filled the pages of the was
hington post with facts of the Watergate Burglary, which led to
the resignation of Richard Nixon who was one time the
president of the United States of America. Although,
Nwabueze  argues that the investigative journalists exist
since the muckraking era in the late 19thand 20th century.
Investigative reporting is a type of specialized reporting that
deals with methodical process of fact-finding. This kind of
reporting is tilted towards unraveling hidden facts that are of
enormous significance to society. To this backdrop Asemah and
Asogwa  aver that “investigative journalism is key to
democratic governance and national development for
According to Story-based Inquiry, an Investigative
Journalism Handbook published by UNESCO, “Investigative
journalism involves exposing to the public matters that are concealed–either deliberately by someone in a position of
power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and
circumstances that obscure understanding. It requires using
both secret and open sources and documents.”
Investigative reporting has to do with exposing wrongdoing,
uncovering violations of law, regulations, codes of
standards, or even common sense or decency. The focus is not
only on institutional wrongs but also on the persons who
commit the wrongs. In their view Dogari and Shem describe an
investigative journalist thus:
An investigative journalist is a security officer in disguise;
he/she can be compared to an officer of the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria who tolerantly,
coherently, logically and systematically gathers information
about crime that is hidden from the people but is of benefit to
society because such information could bring about social
change, thereby changing the course of history.
Therefore, it will be sufficient to say investigative reporting
is a herculean task that requires expertise.
Elements of Investigative Reporting
There are some basic elements, that make investigative
reporting outstanding and distinct from other forms of
specialized reporting. These elements, according to Aretha and
• It is about digging deep into an issue or topic: investigative
journalism has to do with in-depth investigating.
• The issue or topic has to be of public interest: “Public
interest” means that either a community will be
disadvantaged by not knowing this information or will
benefit (either materially or through informed decisionmaking)
by knowing it. Sometimes what benefits one
community may be of disadvantage to another. Forest
dwellers can demand better prices if they know the world
market value of trees that logging companies want to fell.
However, the logging industry may not want this
information spread, as logging will then cost it more.
Reporters need a clear sense of what their mission is and
whom they serve, and this can involve heated newsroom
debates. “Public interest” means the interest of the
community affected. It does not have to be the whole
country, and, indeed ‘public interest’ may be different from
‘national interest’. That term is sometimes used by
governments to justify illegal, dangerous or unethical acts
on the excuse of “my country, right or wrong, “– or, indeed,
to discourage journalists from reporting on a real problem.
• It is a process, not an event: Investigative journalism never
provides an instant story. It goes through rigorous stages of
planning and reporting and has to work to accepted
standards of accuracy and evidence.
• It is original and proactive: Investigative stories have to be
based on the work of the journalist and (where resources
permit) his or her team. Although an investigative story can
start with a tip, simply reporting the tip, or printing the
secret document that is anonymously faxed to you, is not investigative journalism. In fact, doing such a thing may be
both lazy and careless. It carries huge risks, since you have
not investigated the identity, bona fides or motives of your
source or the authenticity of the evidence. You may end up
defaming someone, printing lies or being framed by
somebody’s agents. Instead, you must develop hypotheses
about what the tip means and plan additional research,
decide on the relevant questions, and go out to ask them.
You must see evidence, and hear and analyze answers for
yourself, and go beyond simply verifying the tip.
• It should produce new information or put together
previously available information in a new way to reveal its
significance: If the information or the understanding of its
importance is not new, then, what exactly are you
• It should be multi-sourced: A single source can provide
fascinating revelations and (depending on who the source
is) access to insights and information that would otherwise
be hidden. However, until the story from that source is
crosschecked against other sources – experiential,
documentary and human – and its meaning is explored, no
real investigation has happened.
Characteristics of a Good Investigative
Investigative reporting is not a haphazard task; hence it
requires competent and outstanding journalists who possess
terrific qualities. Nwabueze  says one of the qualities of a
good investigative reporter is for him/her to be computer
literate. It is obvious that journalism practice, in the digital age
becomes easier with the advent of the new communication
technologies. With sound knowledge of computer an
investigative journalist would be able to surf the internet for
relevant information correlated to a topic under investigation.
Furthermore, computer knowledge would enable an
investigative reporter to store, process and retrieve data
thereby, making his report confidential until it is published.
Nwabueze further notes that an investigative journalist must
be objective, analytical, courageous and friendly in the course
of discharging his duty because no one knows which source
could be most useful.
Forbes, cited in Dogari and Shem , outlines the following
as some of the qualities a good investigative reporter should
In-depth investigations take time, especially when following
dead ends; be prepared to follow all leads, regardless of how
insignificant they may appear.
Keep an open mind. You should be able to shift your focus
and, if necessary, change the direction of an investigation.
The art of persuasion
Investigative reporting requires a certain approach to
ensure that sources reveal information. Over and above
general reporting skills, the ability to probe deeply without
upsetting or distressing the source is paramount.
Watchdog’s guide to investigative reporting
When buttons are pressed too hard investigative journalists
have been known to suffer harsh attacks that could potentially
ruin their careers. Dealing with politicians, in particular,
requires the ability to handle public criticism.
Threats of physical violence, litigation, sanction and even
death are used to deter further investigations. Journalists’
families and their acquaintances may be intimidated, and it is
not unheard of for women investigative journalists to be
threatened with rape. You will need guts to deal with hostile
people and situations, as well as the ability to remain calm
There are basically three forms or types of investigative
reporting. These are:
This kind of investigative reporting involves probing an
institution more especially when such an institution deviates
from its purpose thereby betraying public trust.
Here the investigative journalist investigates the activities of
public servants or politicians more especially when they
perceive that they’ve misused their official authority for
Societal Investigation: this form of investigative reporting
has to do with the reporter investigating other societal ills such
as stealing, burglary, public health, communal clashes, etc.
Techniques to Use in Investigative
Investigative reporting is not carried out haphazardly hence
there are methodical techniques that a reporter needs to
adhere to in order to be successful. Coronel (nd) identifies the
following as techniques of investigative reporting:
Getting documents or following the paper trail
Documents are at the heart of investigative reporting.
Often, they provide proof or clues on the wrongdoing that
journalists wish to expose. Documents can corroborate – or
disprove – the information that is given by human sources.
Investigative reporters analyze the documents they obtain
and use the information they find there to piece their stories together. It is difficult, although not impossible, to do
investigations without some sort of paper trail.
Many journalists begin by unearthing documents even
before they do their interviews. This is because documents
provide them the background, the context and the detailed
information they need so they can ask more probing questions
from their sources.
Interviewing sources or following the people’s
People are as important as papers in a journalistic
investigation. They can talk, answer questions – things that
documents cannot do. They can provide history, background,
colour and anecdotes that spice up a story and give it depth.
They also lead to other documents and to other people who
may be vital to an investigation.
Journalists talk to a range of sources in the course of their
investigations. These could be official sources, such as
government or corporate officials or representatives. They
could be private individuals involved in the case the journalist
They could be victims of crime or disaster, human
traffickers, drug dealers or arms sellers. Sometimes they are
eyewitnesses to a crime, an accident or a calamity.
They could be classmates, neighbours, relatives or friends of
a politician who has amassed wealth that cannot be explained
by what he earns. Journalistic sources are often also experts –
scientists, lawyers, accountants – who can explain the
technical issues and make an impartial or disinterested
appraisal of available facts.
In short, journalists interview just about anyone who can
give information on the subject they are investigating.
Using computers and the internet or following
the electronic trail
Increasingly, investigative journalists are using the Internet
to do research on just about any topic they are investigating.
The Internet, with its vast resources, is a mine of information.
Familiarity with online research techniques is now a requisite
for investigators, even for those working in countries where
computer and Internet access is minimal.
In addition, journalists have used email to correspond with
sources in government or the private sector. They have also
used electronic or digital communications (including SMS or
Skype or Google Talk) to receive information from sources who
wish to remain anonymous or who find it dangerous to meet
with journalists face to face.
Computer databases that contain a lot of information are
also now part of the investigative journalists’ take. Reporters
have analyzed trends and patterns from available databases
from companies or from government and used these as
building blocks for their stories. Sometimes journalists construct those databases themselves, based on information
obtained from documents.
Often there is no substitute for the journalist getting her
hands dirty and going to the field to do research. Investigative
journalists have gone to the scenes of disaster, whether it is to
examine an area that has been destroyed by fire or devastated
by a toxic waste spill from a mining company.
They have visited or even lived for a time in communities to
do reports on victims of various forms of exploitation – such as
poor villages where women are forced to find jobs in the cities
and end up as sex workers, factories where poorly paid
immigrant workers are forced to labour, or underground mine
tunnels where workers risk their lives.
Using Investigative Journalism to
Combat Institutional Corruption: An
Agenda for Journalist
Syndicating strategies are an effective instrument in
investigating institutional corruption more especially with the
current advancement in Information Communication
Technologies.To syndicate is to network with other relevant
information sources whether physically or electronically with
the sole aim of generating credible and authentic information.
There are situations when accessing certain information
becomes a nightmare for an investigative journalist more
especially when investigating an institution. In such scenario, a
reporter depends on people who are in the position to support
him/her with relevant information.
With the recent advancement in Information
Communication Technologies, it has now become easier for
journalists within and outside Nigeria to interconnect, thereby
helping each other with relevant information concerning a
subject under investigation.
For instance, when a journalist from Taraba State wants to
investigate the health sector in the state, by merely connecting
to the internet he/she would source preliminary information
from websites or blogs own and managed by other
investigative or citizen journalists.
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism is one
renowned nonprofit investigative organization (network) in
Nigeria which has its own website (The Organization’s
Website: http://www.wscij.org). According to David , the
primary mission of such nonprofits investigative organizations
includes support of investigative journalism and reporting
The diagram below was purposefully designed to illustrate
how an investigative journalist networks with other sources in
order to generate authentic information about an institution
he perceived to be institutionally corrupt (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Investigative journalist networks.
The development of investigative journalism overseas owes
much to a growing network of nonprofit centres, according to
veteran trainers and reporters active in the field. The centres
are a diverse group that includes reporting organizations,
training institutes, small grant-making bodies, and regional
networks that link journalists in person and online. Some
centres combine several of these roles .
For institutional corruption to be combated effectively in
Nigeria there is the need for non-profit investigative networks
that would aid investigative journalists in the course of
investigation. Notwithstanding, the absence of this networks
should not be an excuse not to effectively investigate an
institution because an investigative journalist can use other
sources as illustrated in the diagram above.
Dangers of Investigative Journalism
Investigative reporting is the most hazardous type of
specialized reporting, more especially in the third world
countries where bribery, fraud, embezzlement of funds is the
order of the day. Nwabueze  identifies the following as
stumbling blocks to investigative reporting:
Risk of reporter’s life
Investigative journalists around the world are also faced
with threat to life. The reason is simple, an individual or
institution under investigation would always want to suppress
the story and the only way to do that is to get rid of the
investigative reporter. The murder of Dele Giwa in 1986 is one
of the most renowned experiences in the history of Nigerian
investigative journalism. However, Nwabueze  states that
one of the notable cases at the international scene is the
murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian award-winning
journalist, on October 7. 2017. She was shot dead by a gun
man in a lift of her block of flats.
Risk of media house
There are situations where media houses have either been
invaded by security operatives for publishing some revealing
reports or simply closed down. The suicide bomb by Boko
Haram sect on the 26th of April, 2012 is an example of the risk
being discussed .
Other constraints of investigative journalism highlighted by
Aretha and Ben, cited in Dogari and Shem  are:
The government of the day (especially during military
regimes) may feel the need to close down media houses that
employ probing investigative journalists. In extreme situations,
the license of a media house may be withdrawn by the
government of the day, thus making several journalists jobless.
Many media houses do not pay their journalists well and
this may encourage the journalists to manipulate facts behind
the activities of dubious people or organizations within the
society who offer handsome monetary rewards for favorable
Limited access to information
The Nigerian investigative journalist has limited access to
official archives and records. Sometimes, official archives are
incomplete, poorly maintained and subject to tough official
secrets or privacy laws, which are often left over from the
colonial era. The Nigerian investigative journalists like their
counterparts in many African countries have to be more
creative and flexible to find alternative routes to the evidence
Dearth of qualified journalists
A good number of the people that are into investigative
journalism in Nigeria are not qualified to practice this noble
profession. Hence, they can easily bargain vital information for
just a few thousands of naira. Despite the afore stated dangers
or constraints associated with the practice of investigative
journalism, there are techniques or measures that would help
minimize these dangers. Some of these measures are:
Collaboration with security personnel
Media organisations are expected to work in partnership
with the police, civil defence and other security personnel.
Nwabueze  asserts that a reporter, about setting out to
investigate a potentially dangerous or risky story, should seek
assistance from the police where necessary. He further notes
that the above assertion does not suggest that an exclusive
story be disclosed to the police, but the reporter should know
when the police should be involved. Collaborating with
security personnel is of topmost significance, more especially
when investigating a hazardous story because it minimizes the
chances of assault and other forms of danger.
There is an axiom that says “together everyone achieves
more”. This is also applicable to investigative reporting. The
rapport between Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and their
mysterious informant, Deep Throat, served as a catalyst that
made investigating the Watergate scandal a success.
Nwabueze  posits that it is wise to consider investigating a
story with colleagues more especially when the story under
investigation is potentially hazardous. Nwabueze supports the
above by saying that it will be difficult to single out one
reporter for assault since the story is not exclusive to one
person. Hence group investigative is a viable safety measure in
investigating potentially dangerous stories.
Fortify the investigative reporter
Fortification in this context means equipping the
investigative reporter financially and technically. There are
certain investigative stories that require spending heavily in
order to source certain information; here the media
organisation is expected to shoulder all the financial
implications. Furthermore, the reporter should be
appropriately remunerated by the media organisation.
Remuneration may not necessarily be an increment in the
reporter’s salary; instead it could also be in form of buying
him/her a car or giving him an award so as to encourage the
reporter. Technical wise, a reporter should be provided with
necessary gadgets such as a camera, laptop/Smartphone,
modem, recorder, etc. This would facilitate the investigation.
There no doubt that Investigative journalism has the
potency of combating corrupt practises in Nigeria, but it is also
tragic that this facet of journalism as discussed in this paper is
bedevilled with myriad of challenges ranging from finance and
other hazards associate with its practice. This makes
investigative journalism relegated to the background in Nigeria
journalism practise. Hence, there is the need for a rethink
where journalist, government and stakeholders would
encourage and sustain the practice of this facet of reporting in
order to minimize and if possible eliminate corrupt practises in
the Nigerian society.
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