By Mohammed Dahiru Lawal
A senior investigative reporter with Premium Times, Hassan Adebayo and the deputy general editor of Daily Trust Abdulaziz Abdulaziz and other Nigerian journalists have clinched various awards in the print, online and broadcast categories of the 17th Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.
While Mr Adebayo clinched the overall 2022 investigative reporter of the year for his several parts series on #PandoraPapers inside story which exposed top public officials of involvement in illicit funds transaction, Mr Abdulaziz, who won the overall investigative Journalists of the year in 2018, clinched the merit award for investigative reporting in the TV category for his work, “Nigeria’s Banditry – the Inside Story”.
The grand event which was held Friday at NECA House in Lagos, following a two-day Amplify In-Depth Media Conference (AIMConference), awarded various journalists for their “works and resilience in the face of shrinking civic space,” according to the organisers, the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Reporting, WSCIJ.
Other award winners at the grand event include Trust TV’s Zainab Bala for her story exposing various risk factors responsible for increased maternal deaths in Nigeria, News Central Abuja Bureau Chief Amadin Uyi for his works on Abuja land racketeering and government negligence, Diamond FM’s Babatunde Okunola for his works on gold rushes and land grab in Ijesha and Ggenga Salau of Guardian for his work on how fake Ghanian Herbal Products are Manufactured in Ghana and marketed in Nigeria.
Other winners are, Juliana Francis of the New Telegraph for her investigation exposing how police deny victims of gender violence justice by truncating rape cases, Chukwuemeka Emenike the Assistant Chief Cartoonist at New Telegraph for his pictorial representation of poverty and petty crime in the face of double standard by the Nigerian justice system, and Victor Asowata for his depiction of how poverty and political manipulations in electioneering leads to poor governance in Nigeria.
Others include Olatunji Obasa for his “cry for rescue” photo collage of victims of the Kaduna train attack, Deji Lambo for his daring photo title “Poisonous Kpomo” which depicts how chemical substances used to roast cow hide popularly called “Kpomo”, exposes consumers to health hazard, Olanrenwajo Oyedeji of Dataphyte for his story on how corruption on contract award is affecting quality of education and Folashade Ogunrinde, News Editor at TV360.
Reacting to his award, Mr Adebayo said he felt honored to have been recognised for his works on the #PandoraPapers which is a testimony to journalistic excellence.
He thanked the WSCIJ for the recognition.
On his part, Mr Abdulaziz said the honor came at a time when government censorship and threat to life almost ridiculed the hard work he put into the story.
Similarly, Miss Juliana who exposed the role of police in truncating rape cases noted that the story made her angry and passionate at the same time.
“These emotions have helped me achieve this honor today, I therefore thank the panel of judges for seeing what I saw and the WSCIJ for the support,” she said.
Earlier, Professor Ropo Sekoni, the WSCIJ Board chair while opening the award ceremony recalled that the event has been held annually since 2005 to acknowledge best practices in investigative journalism and to uphold accountability as indispensable tool for good governance.
While giving the judges comment, Professor Abigail Odozi Ogwezzy, chair of the 2022 panel of judges commended the effort of the WSCIJ for encouraging the use of journalism to push for social change.
She noted that out of about 218 entries for the award, only 179 met the criteria for judgement by the panel of judges.
“Each journalist showed creativity and dexterity in their report. Most stories exemplified accountability which has been undermined in Nigeria and human interest issues which affect Nigeria the most,” she stated.
While lamenting recent attempts to clampdown on journalism, Mrs Ogwezzy said the judges applauded the resilience shown by Nigerian journalists in the face of this threat.
She commended some stories which exposed patterns and showcased trends and weaknesses of some Nigerian institutions and called on government to take necessary and decisive action where necessary.
“Though some stories were not awarded, they brought attention to many issues which should serve as warning sign and a call to attention of duty bearers to act,” she said.
Other judges for the 17th award include Professor Lai Osho as team lead, Dr Theophilus Abba of Daily Trust; Dayo Aiyeton of the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR; Akintunde Akinleye, among others.
Each winner went away with award plaques, computer, mobile devices and cash prizes.