Considering the importance of journalism, particularly, investigative journalism in the democratic system and its impact on the rule of law and accountability, CENOZO, the organization that mobilises and supports investigative journalists in West Africa, coordinated the first ever largest collaboration of journalists in West Africa on the remarkable project known as West Africa Leaks in May 2018.
The West Africa Leaks project, which brought together 13 journalists from 11 countries in West Africa, was carried out in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The journalists dug through 30 million files from ICIJ’s database including from Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Swiss Leaks and Offshore Leaks among others, and investigated stories on tax avoidance and nepotism.
The investigations found some African politicians, public officials and business people who had made strenuous efforts to hide their wealth in offshore jurisdictions and avoid paying taxes in their home countries. West Africa Leaks, also highlighted the need to strengthen collaborations among journalists in West Africa in the face of limited resources and the fact that there isn’t free access to information in most of the countries, including even the countries that have right to information laws – that’s what CENOZO is pursuing – supporting journalists in the region with training, networking and the resources to do investigative journalism.
CENOZO, will from the beginning of March 2019 publish investigative reports conducted in different West African countries. The relevant and importance of investigative journalism cannot be overemphasized as investigative journalism holds to account the powerful, who are often likely to break the rules. Breaking the rules has been responsible for many actions that have led to the dislocation of systems, which have led to the truncating of the development process in many of the countries of the region.
Investigative journalism exposes corruption, injustices, sometimes, state-sponsored criminal activities, forcing some countries to respond and act to make right the wrongs brought about by those negative acts.
Through the work of its journalists, CENOZO seeks to shine the light on the dark areas of business, politics, human rights, illicit financial flows, human trafficking, drugs trafficking, arms trafficking and environmental degradation. All these activities have been responsible for setting many West African countries back – impoverishing the people, robbing countries of their natural resources, igniting strife, denying many their freedoms and rights to dignified lives.
These 40 stories that will be published over the month of March 2019 cover issues affecting the environment, human rights, corruption, tax avoidance and corruption.
Hopefully, these investigative reports would shine light on the dark spots and stir many to action to pursue right and do right to promote democracy, development and enhance the enjoyment of human rights and for the people of West Africa.