The leak about fake academic credentials of Nigerian Senator Forster Ogoloa sparked an investigative collaboration between various media organisations. This eventually led to the exposure of a big certificate scandal that caused shock and outrage amongst many Nigerians. The story raises serious concerns about the vetting process of lawmakers and the accreditation system in Nigeria and the public is now demanding answers. We spoke with The Cable, Premium Times and OrderPaper, three of the media organisations involved about how the story developed.
“The investigation was a joint effort by journalists from several media houses. It's the first time such a collaboration happened, which I believe is huge and shows that such collaborations can work. I believe it will help strengthen the media, reduce cost of producing such investigations, have greater impact.” - Order Paper.
What happened between the leak coming in and the publication?
The Cable: “The leak came in on the 19th of February. First a thorough research was carried out by the coalition to ascertain the allegation against the Senator. Specific tasks were assigned to team members. The Cable traced the location of the fake university and attempted to get records of the lawmaker. We visited the so-called university twice and interacted with the officials there.” Premium Times adds “We did our part of the task and sent our report to OrderPaper, who wrote the final story. Then the final version was shared and members agreed on the date of publication.”
What was the most remarkable moment in the investigation?
OrderPaper: “The response from the Senator himself. After learning that he had been accused, he showed no sense of urgency towards rectifying the error. His almost arrogant response is very telling of the calibre of leaders we select.” For Premium Times, “the most remarkable moment was when everyone started to review the findings from each member. Deliberations at the physical meeting were also interesting, with everyone putting aside their ego to agree to work together and share information. It's the first time such a collaboration happened, which I believe is huge and shows that such collaborations can work. I believe it will help strengthen the media, reduce cost of producing such investigations, have greater impact.”
What happens next?
Based on the first reactions on the story you can sense some shock and outrage among Nigerian citizens. According to The Cable we can at least expect the senator to come out clean about the certificates. And for the future? “This will make Nigerians, especially our various political office holders, to be more cautious about certificates and titles they claim or award themselves as such claims will no longer be taken at face value.”
Read the full article on Premium Times. You can read other versions of the stories below:
International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism
Leaks.ng was launched in 2017 under Free Press Unlimited´s No News is Bad News program. The platform serves as a tool for people to send information of public interest to media outlets using secure technologies. It is part of an initative aimed at holding powers to account and exposing wrongdoings in Nigeria through citizen engagement. The media houses supporting the platform have made a commitment to collaboration in the name of providing credible, fact-checked, professional investigations to the public.