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2022 in Review: Here are major investigations that held power to account

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AS part of its vision to promote good governance through critical and accountability reporting, The ICIR Head of Investigations, Olugbenga Adanikin looks at some of the major investigations conducted in the year 2022, which held power to account even as the year officially comes to a close.

These reports span different sectors ranging from insecurity to economy ranging, from businesses to sports, health, governance, and human rights, including holding public servants and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) to account.

January

The ICIR commenced the year with a two-part special investigation – Maiduguri: Troubled City in Darkness. It documented how Borno State was left without power in the previous year of 2021 due to incessant terrorist attacks on the power transmission lines. These affected not only government and private businesses but also hospitals, and courts, among other public institutions denying them access to deliver governance to the people.

The 330kV Transmission Line destroyed along Damaturu-Maiduguri road, Borno State
The 330kV Transmission Line destroyed along Damaturu-Maiduguri road, Borno State. Photo Credit: File Copy.

Second to that was a three-part investigation on how a multi-billion-naira solar-power investment project failed in three regions across the country. The report was more of probing several investments sunk into the sector in five years, its efficiency in boosting small businesses and achieving Nigeria’s commitment to the Climate Change Paris Agreement.

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA), following the report, agreed on some of the discoveries and promised to investigate the findings.

It pledged to sponsor a bill to effectively manage partners involved, or at most, work with the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to address the loopholes.

The report – As Nigerian government slumbers, N144bn Aba shoe industry crawls also published in January, documented how the federal government’s neglect of the shoe-making industry caused a major loss to the economy and the local manufacturers.

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This is despite the shoe exports to neighbouring countries and other parts of the country.

February

Following the spate of kidnappings, The ICIR tracked the ransoms paid to bandits even as the robbers claimed more territories. This became an important story that needed to be told for the government to find a sustainable solution to the trend.

Bawa Yusuf abducted twice by kidnappers in Sokoto state. Source: File copy.

A similar story that  focused on issues affecting the masses is tracking of fraudulent investment schemes – ViableX, Farm4Me, CEEPAS, among others and how they lured and extorted the public. While a number of the investors got a refund, some were compensated with landed properties, while others are waiting for full repayment.

In the same month, The ICIR also looked at how some Chinese companies violate labour laws in this report “Nigerian government watches as Chinese companies violate labour laws, workers’ rights”.

March

The report “Illegal loan apps ignore Nigeria’s cyber laws, continue to shame customers” stood out in the month of March. It was a two-part article that revealed the unethical practices of loan application firms, popularly called the Loan Sharks, with outrageous interest rates and deception tricks.

The impact-driven story, thereafter, generated public reactions and attracted the attention of the regulatory agency – the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).

FCCPC
Babatunde Irukera examining documents of a loan app firm during the raid. Photo Credit: File Copy.
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The brain drain story in the health sector following the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the nation’s health sector. Published on March 30, the trend sadly still persists despite alarm from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and a series of other investigations.

In the same month, this two-part investigation,”Nigerian presidency repeats lies, half-truths on infrastructure projects in South-East ( Part 2)”  shows the Nigerian Presidency making half-truths and repeated lies on infrastructural developments in the South-East region.  See the first part here.

Another striking report published on March 8, is how a firm formed by 38 Australian universities raked in fortunes from the IELTS even as Nigerians groan.

April

One of the most important stories in the month of April was the report documenting the pains of people living in Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State. The multimedia report revealed the cause of multiple deaths and other untold stories of the survivors. It is titled Harvest of Death: The pains of living Southern Kaduna.

Beyond this was the report exposing a suspicious deal between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and a ticket licensee during the Nigeria-Ghana return match.

It was titled, “How NFF sold ‘N120m worth ticketing’ right at N5m for Nigeria – Ghana return match”.

The NFF President Amaju Pinnick. File Photo.
The NFF President Amaju Pinnick. File Photo.

The report uncovered NFF’s secret dealings and lack of transparency, raising concern about the slow development of the nation’s sports sector, especially football.

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In addition, on April 16, The ICIR reported on the wrong practice adopted by members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), falsifying medical reports to bypass the normal protocol of the scheme. Part of the gimmick is to feign illness, procuring medical fitness reports via WhatsApp groups and online vendors, but lots more can be read here.

Earlier was the Lekki-Gardens piece, where the popular estate firm was linked to a N9.9m fraud allegation. They eventually refunded the victim with an interest of about 15 per cent.

May

“INSIDE STORY: How pastor who charges N310,000, keeps dozens of Nigerians in church in preparation for ‘rapture’” This story which reads like something from a movie  tells the story of a Pastor who charged his congregation about N310, 000 in preparation for rapture and N350, 000 to acquire the holy spirit.  Though it started as a news report published by other platforms, it ended up being a three-part investigation.

Read other parts  here and here.

A covered manhole and several uncovered ones. Source: File Copy

“How Abuja became the city with uncovered manholes” is a report that revealed how several parts of the FCT is littered with uncovered manholes thus, causing accidents to vehicles and the public.

The report was followed by intervention from the FCTA which took several steps to fix the situation.

 

June

The mass shooting and killing of a church congregation at the St. Francis Catholic Church on June 5, Owo, Ondo State, was probably the most important but sad news incident that dotted the month of June.

The ICIR visited and did an on-the-spot documentation of the attack in a report titled Anguish, horror, pain: Inside Story of Owo Catholic Church Shooting, the report attempted to put faces to the victims and tell their stories.

Also, The ICIR reported on how persistent shortages and poverty drove the blood black market in the country. Read report here

Pint of Bloods. Source: File Copy.
Pint of Bloods. Source: File Copy.

Even as the country prepares for the general election, The ICIR wrote on how the failure of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) could mar the 2023 election if not well attended to. The Ekiti election, which brought in Abiodun Oyebanji as the state’s incumbent governor, came as a simple case study. It took 16 times attempts for a 106-year-old woman to exercise her voting right due to the failure of the BVAS machine.

July

The story of how fertility clinics deceived women with cryptic pregnancies, injecting them with a high level of oestrogen or sometimes progesterone hormones, carved a niche for the month of July.

File photo. A protruded belly due to pregnancy.
A protruded belly due to pregnancy. File for Illustration Purpose. 

Spiced with a number of solutions journalism reporting, this newspaper revealed how a tuition-free school has been bridging the education gap of 100 children at the Abuja Internally Displaced Persons camp.

The spotlight came on Nigeria’s leading anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with this report “EFCC budgets N100m to purchase photocopying machine in 2022″

August

The month of August saw multiple in-depth stories on accountability reporting. One of those was the uncovering of poor sanitation in the home town of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, despite a multi-million-naira water facility. The issue of open defecation, thus, became rife.

The report – How Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital Hid Details of N3.07 billion COVID-19 Awarded Contracts was one of the series to uncover wrongdoings of public office holders, and private firms in the COVID-19 contract awards. The report unveiled how the hospital got over N3 billion yet claimed it received less than N25 million during the pandemic.

Infograph on COVID-19 Funds Released to the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital during COVID-19. Source: Olugbenga Adanikin, The ICIR.

It triggered public engagements, especially from stakeholders in the health sector who, before the publication, were unaware of the huge interventions to the teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres (FMCs) in the country.

Other parts of the series include: At FMC Abeokuta, almost a billion-naira worth of COVID-19 medical intervention may rot away; How JUTH ignored procurement guidelines over N853 million COVID-19 fund; COVID-19: Over N22.58 billion shared among 21 teaching hospitals etc.

September

For decades, Nigerians willing to own an international passport issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) were subjected to unfair treatments. The officers’ wrong attitude to work coupled with huge corrupt practices from the personnel, as a result, denied many life-time opportunities. Others spend months before eventually receiving the international travel document.

This report “how the corrupt immigration officers took advantage of Nigerian passport seekers” documents the extortion ongoing despite an online open platform meant to ease the passport issuance process.

The report, shortly after, generated impacts. Some officers of the NIS were transferred out of state, while victims initially affected publicly announced receiving their international passports.

The leadership of the NIS, the Acting Comptroller-General (CG), Idris Jere, subjected himself to public scrutiny and responded to some of the issues through a twitter space with a special public debate on the atrocity.

In Akwa Ibom, a special report uncovered how primary school pupils were denied access to proper education, yet the state government spent billions of naira in procuring exotic cars which its value could provide about 244, 000 desks for the school children.

Still in the same month, the controversial Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) appeared on the radar of The ICIR, having accused of illegally deducting from the accrued salary increase of about 5, 000 staffers of the organisation.

Backed with exclusive documents and accounts of multiple sources, and visit to the office, the NSITF attempted to prevent the issue from becoming a public discourse. It eventually generated public discussions among other previous allegations against the Trust. A number of the issues were discussed at the parliament while the NSITF suspended further deductions as of the time of the report.

October

The ICIR did several in-depth reporting on the flooding that affected most states in Nigeria. The reports are captured here –   Flood Series

The ICIR also did the Pension Series that captured the plights of retries in Benue and Delta state.  – Retiring to Poverty: Benue retires live in penury as government defaults on pension payment,  and also  In Delta, Okowa’s non-payment of primary school retirees is leading teachers to early graves (part 1)

Benue state pensioner, Lazarus Anyebe. Photo: The ICIR

Ocotober also saw the publication of the plights of person living with disability and displaced in Sokoto and Zamfara “Hard realities of being disabled and displaced in Northwest Nigeria”.

November

The report – 10 years after: Ogun model schools, another white elephant project of govt failure, unkept promises and wasted funds told the story of rots. The wasteful spending by the administration of Ibikunle Amosun, who is currently a senator at the National Assembly, makes the story worthwhile.

Abandoned Model School at Isara Remo, Ogun state. Photo: The ICIR. Credit: File Copy.

The ICIR also did series of reporting that looked into the Primary healthcare, the Midwives Schemes and the the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) revealed the impacts of the intervention. The series can be read here.

Though not commissioned by The ICIR, this important story – How Police charge poor Nigerians N30k, N59k before probing reported cases, clearly told the experience of typical Nigerians who had approached the police to seek proper justice.

December

With about 20.2 million children, Nigeria accounts for the nation with the highest figure of out-of-school children. This report titled – How hidden fees contribute to out-of-school children in FCT re-emphasised the problem and the need to proffer sustainable solutions.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Author profile

Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at oadanikin@icirnigeria.org. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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