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Media organisations, CSOs reaffirm need for synergy at ICIR roundtable

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SELECT media and civil society organisations have renewed their commitment to pooling together resources in the fight against human rights violations and general injustice in Nigeria.

The third roundtable meeting was held on Thursday, in Abuja, by the International Centre for Investigative, ICIR, as part of a ‘Human Rights Accountability Reporting’ project organised in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

Lekan Otufodunrin, Executive Director of Media Career Development Network and former Editor of Online and Special Publications at The Nation Newspapers, advised the participating organisations to share insights, experiences, and resources, an approach he assured will bring them closer to achieving their objectives.

“That kind of relationship will help on both sides,” he said, pointing out that while non-governmental organisations can help journalists with expertise and data, they also stand to benefit from the latter’s investigative skills and platforms for greater publicity.

Lekan Otufodunrin delivering a talk on “Media, CSO relationship: The missing link” at the roundtable. File credit: The ICIR

During his talk where he shed light on past examples of CSO-media collaboration, the Executive Director of The ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan, argued that such alliances are important as journalists and advocates have one basic goal: accountability.

“I am a journalist, not an advocate. But you do all your stories, they do not bring impact; so why shouldn’t you set in motion some kind of advocacy?,” he asked.

Chioma Agwuegbo, founder of TechHer and former programme manager at Reboot’s West Africa office, also spoke to the attendees about how the media can best be used in tackling rights abuse, and what the organisations need to note when reporting electoral issues.

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She urged journalists to focus on communicating, rather than simply informing. This, she said, can be achieved by putting stories within contexts, dissecting relevant issues, and connecting historical dots. “We must revisit our roles as communicators and ask if we have passed across the message,” Agwuegbo said.

Joining two other CSOs and three investigative reporters, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) was announced at the event as one of the beneficiaries in the second batch of grants after its pitch was accepted having fulfilled the set requirements.

Beneficiaries under the first batch, announced in September, also provided progress updates to the group on their programmes and reports. Cynthia Ozioma Ifeanyi, a social worker at the Devatop Centre for Africa Development for instance, said her organisation has organised eight sessions of the ‘TALKAM’ radio show, through which it is creating awareness about and seeking solutions to human trafficking.

The thirty-minute show, which is aired by 10 am on Fridays, kicked off on November 16, 2018. The Sexual Offences Awareness and Victims Rehabilitation (SOAR) Initiative, represented by Njoku Chibuzor, also explained that it has used financial support from the project to sensitise school students and staffers about boy-child abuse.

In November, the SOAR Initiative organised training for male teachers, and others, from public and private schools in Abuja on the subject of sexual and gender-based violence.

The first and second roundtables were held in May and September, 2018. Journalists and civil society actors participating in the project have also been trained at separate workshops for successful investigations and advocacy campaigns.

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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