Investigative Journalism Practices And Problems In Nigeria

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Investigative Journalism Practices And Problems In Nigeria


The practice of investigative journalism in Nigerian is facing several problems which pose great threat to the benefits that accrue from this vital aspect of the journalism profession. Hence, this study examines the problems and prospects of investigative journalism in Nigeria using Rivers State as a case study, using the survey research method. A total of 56Journalists (43 from The Tide and13 from The Hard Truth newspapers) were sampled. The findings indicated that investigative journalism is practised in Nigeria but its level of practice is abysmally low due to myriads of problems bedevilling the practice. However, there are greater prospects of its practice with the signing of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill into law in 2011. Hence, the study recommends a proactive approach to investigative journalism while harnessing the opportunities as envisaged in the FOI Act.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

In its 1956 history, the Nigeria news media has evolved from endorsing colonial missionary catechism through the spirited advocacy of the struggle for Independence and moved its post indigene mission and defining its role with the state, it is imperative to note that press had played and is still playing a key role in Nigeria. The mass media is therefore the bedrock on which the government fabric is built. Mass Media is the channel through which the military and civilian government expresses their policy.

Since 1960, the press has been asserting its relevance to the evolution o the Nigeria state although 29 of those forty seven (47) years, it has operated under the malevolence of increasingly repressive military regimes. It vital tradition of lively reportage. Remarkable on the African content was natured within a political culture that tolerated dissent, especially as a mechanism for balancing various ethnic and political forces battling for the centre of the Nigeria state.

Up till date, conflict between the media and the state were resolved through back door negotiation or judicial intervention although many journalist have been lined and others jailed for carrying out their civic and constitutional responsibility, some decreases were promulgated by the military government Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) whose members include government and independent press.

Again, the military regime, Babangida particularly targets the Nigeria media in their classic role as public watchdog and instrument of check against government exceses. In a sophisticated carrot and stick strategy, the government, corrupted many members of the press, terrified some and sent some in exile, it was under this kind of military regime that top editor, Dele Giwa was assassinated with a letter bomb in 1986 and various publication were prescribed by the executive decree.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

This research work aim at studying the different challenges of investigative journalism practice in Nigeria, using Tell Magazine Nigeria as a case study.

It is also intended to compare and contrast the level of freedom of information during the military era and in present democratic dispensation. The researcher want to know if the recent Freedom of Information Law in Nigeria has enhance the effectiveness of journalists and reduce the level of victimization, harassment, killing, kidnapping and host of others challenges facing media in the course of gathering and dissemination information to the general public.

1.3 Objectives of Study

The study seeks to among other things:

  1. Examine the level of awareness among journalist in Nigeria on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
  2. 2Determine the extent to which the FOIA can aid investigative journalism practice towards a fair, balanced, accurate and objective reporting.
  3. Ascertain the seeming challenges to the maximization of the investigative journalism practice in Nigeria.
  4. Find out if the will truly Nigeria laws guarantee “unfettered” access to government-held information among investigative journalists in Nigeria.
  5. Find out if the act will make investigative journalism more promising, especially in determining what or what not to report.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the level of awareness among journalists in Nigeria on the FOIA?
  2. To what extent can the FOIA aid media practice towards a fair, balanced, accurate and object reporting?
  3. What are the seeming impediments to the effective maximization of the Investigative journalism practice in Nigeria?
  4. Will the government laws truly guarantee “unfettered” access to government-held information among journalists in Nigeria?
  5. Will government laws make journalism more promising especially in determining what or what not to report?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is significant in more ways than one therefore, the study will attempt to reveal the point of convergence between the FOIA and effective media practice. Aside its immense potency to contribute to the body of knowledge, the study also provides a variable insight into provisions of the FOIA, thereby creating an awareness about the law and its attendant prospects.

Moreso, the study can serve as one existing literature or as an additional literature on freedom of information in Nigeria libraries. It will also be instrumental to prospective researchers who may want to plunge into this similar area of study.

Again, journalists, editors, specialized groups, society, government etc.

stand to gain immensely from the study. For the journalists, it provides them an ample opportunity to press for national development and enthronement of transparency in government. The government, through this study could harness the latent potency of the law as educated in it towards providing quality service to its citizens.

In the same vein, the study is significant to the extent that it provides a platform for government press collaboration which if harnessed, can facilitate national development.

1.6 Definition of Terms


Journalism can be defined as the day to day gathering and transmitting of news, which means journalism, is primarily concerned with giving out of information to an audience on a regular basis through a suitable channel of communication.


This is the process or act of scrutinizing and placing a careful search or examination in order to discover facts that are hidden or concealed.

Investigative journalism:

Investigative journalism can be defined as the collection and processing of facts about current events for dissemination to the public through the medium of newspapers, magazine, radio, television and so on. Its implementation requires journalists to have excellent skills that must be mastered and learned.

In particular, research, analytical and communication have to be learned by the practitioners in an effort to make their work more effective.


This refers to a person whose primary occupation is the gathering writing, editing and transmitting of information on a current event to the public.

Investigative Journalist:

This is the person whose primary occupation to gather, writes, edits with the use of investigation, interview and transmit the information to the public.

Media of Journalism:

The different media through which information gathered can be presented are:

  1. The print media: Newspaper, magazine
  2. The electronic: Radio, television, film and internet.

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Chapter Five

Discussion of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendation

5.1 Discussion of Findings

The data analysed indicate that investigative journalism is practised in Rivers State of Nigeria as 56.60% of the respondents (Journalists) agreed. This finding agreed with that of Ocholi (2010) who concluded that investigative journalism is recognised and practised in most media houses in Nigeria especially the print media. The analysis also revealed that the extent or level of practice of investigative journalism was abysmally low as 66.64% of the respondents affirmed. This finding validates the assertion by Assay (2009) who advanced that the Nigeria mass media still maintained a crawling speed in the field of vibrant investigative reporting unlike their counterpart in developing South Africa and Ghana,. This analysis also showed that death threat is the greatest challenge facing the practice of investigative journalism in Nigeria. Citing the case of Dele Giwa, Olaniya (2008) acknowledged that most journalists in Nigeria prefer to gloss over incriminating facts concerning the government, institutions and society for the fear of being murdered.

As a guarantee for the practice of investigative journalism in Nigeria, it is obvious from the responses that access to information will invariably lead to in-depth analysis of stories. This is corroborated by the finding made by Iheakah (2007) in his study where he identied the absence of freedom of information law as a major constraint to the practice of investigative journalism.

5.2 Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study, the following conclusions were made:

In the first place, even though, investigative journalism is a relatively new field in journalism it is recognised and practised in Nigeria. Also, the extent of practice of investigative journalism is rather low and not encouraging inspite of many media houses in the country. It is surprising to note that even with so much media houses in the country, the extent of practice of investigative journalism is low.On the other hand, there are no provisions for the security and insurance of the journalists who want to go into investigative journalism as death threats has been a major undoing of the practice in Nigeria.

Finally effective practice of investigative journalism in Nigeria holds some alluring prospects for the future of print media in Nigeria particularly with the signing of Freedom of Information Bill (FOB) into law.

5.3 Recommendations

The researcher makes the following recommendations based on the findings of the study:

  1. Media owners should come to terms with the reality of the primary role of the media in a democratic society which is to tell the truth objectively covering all shades of opinion and facts relevant to the issue in question. This is what investigative journalism can do and the editorial policy should espouse this to the latter.
  2. Media owners should not sacrifice the truth on the altars of partisanship or profit-making or any other selfish ends.
  3. Journalists should constantly engage themselves in fora such as symposia, workshops and the likes to evaluate the practice of investigative journalism in the country and chat the way forward.

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