The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) has rewarded 13 journalists who distinguished themselves in investigative journalism in Nigeria, at the 17th edition of its Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting which took place in Lagos on December 9, 2022. The Centre also gave honourary awards to two women for their various contributions in their fields.
The Centre said it received entries from 218 journalists from which 13 finalists were shortlisted for prizes in Cartoon, Online, Radio, Television Investigative Report, and Print Categories. First prizes, runner-up prizes and commendation prizes were given in these categories.
The 2022 edition of the Awards which held with the theme “In-depth media and democratic governance” was preceded by a two-day Amplify In-depth Media Conference which began on December 8 and ended on December 9 at the end of which the Awards were held.
The judges noted that the journalists who made the list for the awards, have in the course of their duties shown uncommon innovation and profundity, ethical journalistic courage, individual creativity and public benefit in their reports on clandestine activities, public or corporate corruption, human rights violation and the failure of regulatory agencies.
Juliana Francis of the New Telegraph won the best investigative journalist in the Print category; Babatunde Okunlola won the best investigative journalist in the Radio category; Abdulaziz Abdulaziz of the Trust TV won the best TV investigative report, while Victor Asowata of The Will won the editorial cartoon of the year.
Chukwuemeka Emenike of the New Telegraph; Amandi Uyi of News Central; and Folashade Ogunrinde of TV360 Nigeria won the runners-up in the Cartoon, TV and Online categories respectively.
Others journalists: Olanrewaju Oyedeji of Dataphyte, Zainab Bala of Trust TV, and Gbenga Salau of The Guardian were commended for their bravery and dedication to carrying out investigative reports.
Hassan Adebayo of Premium Times won the best investigative journalist in the Online category and emerged the overall Wole Soyinka investigative journalist of the year.
Dr. (Mrs) Abiola Afolabi-Akiode, a Law lecturer at the University of Lagos and the Executive Director of Women Advocacy and Documentation Centre (WARDC) was awarded the Human Rights defender Awards while the Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence went to Mrs. Stella Din-Jacob, Director of News at TVC.
Speaking at the Awards, the Executive Director/CEO, WSCIJ, Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka, said the 13 finalists were selected out of the 218 applications received for the award.
She noted that: “The quality of journalism affects the quality of democracy. Accountability journalism and the democracy it supports, however, face threats daily. A day to celebrate our champions – the investigative journalists – who defy the odds, sacrifice personal interests and risk their lives in the line of duty for people and country is in order.”
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a Ghanaian investigative journalist who utilises his anonymity as a tool in his investigative journalism work, was on ground to lend credence to the threats faced and sacrifices made by journalists carrying out investigations into corruptions and other wrongdoings.
Mrs. Alaka added that “The cost of accountability journalism became even higher since 2020 as journalists faced the raging pandemic to get the stories despite unfavourable laws, the shutdown of many government institutions to reporters, job lay-offs, limited resources and the possibility of getting sick or dying. As Nigeria approaches another election year, the heat on our profession is fiercer.”
“Despite these numerous challenges, many journalists hold both government and citizens accountable. To acknowledge this endeavour which guarantees the sanctity of our civic space, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism has made it a duty to reward phenomenal works and encourage the culture of investigative journalism,” she said.