MEDIA Rights Agenda (MRA) on Thursday trained 24 Journalists on the use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in writing investigative reports.
The 2-day workshop took place at ASAA Pyramids Hotel, Kaduna State.
The training is part of a series of MRA’s training under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusion, And Accountability (CMEDIA) with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre For Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) and the MacArthur Foundation.
In his welcome remarks, Edetaen Ojo, MRA’s Executive Director, said the workshop was designed to introduce the concept of using the FOI in acquiring information and documents to aid investigative reporting.
“The media have not been using the FOI to gather information for its report and we hope that through this workshop, you can improve your reporting with the use of the FOI Act.
“An investigative reporter is like a law enforcement investigator or a prosecutor trying to establish a case against a suspect.
“The freedom of information has made investigative reporting more feasible and is backed by the law,” Ojo said.
The Director also took the journalists on conducting investigative reporting and the role of record in investigative reporting. He urged journalists to conduct research and meet experts to explain data that can’t be understood for accuracy in reporting.
Mr Ayode Longe, MRA’s Deputy Executive Director, said the event was meant to empower journalists to use the FOI Act for investigative reports as there is still a lack of knowledge among journalists.
He said: “Journalists have a legal tool with which to request information in the custody of government.
“Private companies that conduct business with public funds are also under the obligation to respond to FoI requests, under the act.
“The act is not subjected to citizenship it says, it’s the right of any person to access or request information which is in custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.”
He added that Journalists can choose not to give reasons and why the information is needed as the act also covers it.
Rose Ene Adebayo, a journalist with Silverbird TV, said the workshop has given her the opportunity to know what the FoI Act is and how to use it accordingly.
“Now I feel confident and I can go ahead to apply in making requests of important document organizations, especially government agencies.”