Honours for Journalists at the Wole Soyinka Centre Investigative Reporting Awards

2013 Award Finalists with Ibim Semenitari (5th right), Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications; Robert Fitzpatrick (6th left), British High Commission's Head of Press & Public Affairs; and Motunrayo Alaka (7th left), WSCIJ Coordinator.

Investigative journalism took a leap as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism honoured journalists and others at the award presentation ceremony of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting on world anti-corruption day – 9 December. The event held at the NECA Hall, Ikeja, Lagos.

Professor Ropo Sekoni, the WSCIJ Board Chair opened the meeting. He spoke to the importance of investigative journalism in Nigeria, stressing the criticality of support for existing initiatives.

In her speech, Ms Ibim Semenitari, Rivers State Commissioner for Information, who represented the Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Rotimi Ameachi mentioned that the Rivers state government chose to support the award in recognition of its contribution to investigative journalism in the country. According to her, “if the people will benefit from democracy then the media must be on the side of the people and continue to act as watchdog to the government.”

Representing the British High Commissioner Dr Andrew Pacock, Mr Robert Fitzpatrick, the Commission’s Political and Press Officer, said the media will forever play a role in holding the powerful to account be it in government or in business. He emphasised that the British High Commission was pleased to be associated with the Centre and its award programme through its support of the online category.

Chairman of the 2013 WSAIR Judges’ Board and Dean of the School of Journalism, Lagos State University, Professor Lai Oso, presented the judges’ observations on the entries for 2013. He highlighted the failings of many entries received and called on the media to do better investigative reporting even as he charged the Centre to embark on intensive training programmes.

The Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence was presented to veteran journalist, Amma Ogan. In her acceptance comment, she expressed her pleasure at the honour of being recognised and appreciated by the Centre. Solumfeechi, Dr Chidi Odinkalu’s ten year old daughter who received the Anti-Corruption Defender Award presented by Prof Wole Soyinka on behalf of the human rights advocate, also read his acceptance speech to the audience.

Adeyemi Adesemoju of the Punch Newspaper with his story, Court where alleged offenders are rushed to jail; Emmanuel Ogala of Premium Times with his entry Jonathan awards $40 million contract to Israeli company to monitor computer, Internet communication by Nigerians; and Ayoola Kassim of Channels Television with the piece The Ikeja police college received commendation certificates for their efforts.

The Local Government category was won by Bassey Udo and Ini Ekott of Premium Times with their story – How FCT officials steal houses, lands from Abuja indigenes in huge resettlement fraud and Nigeria’s misplaced talents, Asukwo Bassey’s witty drawing published in Businessday Newspaper won in the cartoon category.

The Virginity Test, a 13-series work by Temitayo Famutimi of Punch Newspaper emerged winner in the Print category while Segun Elijah was runner-up in the same category with his entry titled The Poachers Called Keepers published in National Standard Magazine.

The duo of Ruona Agbroko-Meyer and Ini Ekott emerged winner in the Online category with their story How Nigeria Squanders Millions on Generators its Foreign Missions don’t Need while Tobore Ovuorie went home with the runner-up prize in the category with her story – Gravely ill patients die queuing to see Nigeria’s few specialist doctors.

The Punch Newspaper’s Stanley Ogidi was a star indeed as his entries, A School in the Heart of Lagos and Two Bridges, One City were declared runner-up and winner in the Photojournalism category.

Aderonke Ogunleye of Premium Times won her part won the Sports category with her 2-part piece titled How Nigeria’s sports commission officials enriched selves, and cheat paralympians.

The 2013 WSCIJ-Nigerian Investigative Reporter of the Year, which is the overall prize of the award programme, went to the team of Ruona Agbroko-Meyer and Ini Ekott for their outstanding story – How Nigeria Squanders Millions on Generators its Foreign Missions don’t Need.

The winners received an award plaque, a backup computer hard drive and a cash prize of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) each. The runners-up were given a cash prize of N50, 000 (Fifty Thousand Naira Only) and a backup computer hard drive each. The overall winners also took home framed plaques and an additional N50, 000. All finalists received a commendation certificate.

Prof Wole Soyinka in his keynote address urged the Centre and its supporters to keep up the fight. He however prayed for the grace for continuation in the fight against corruption. According to him, the menace of corruption and impunity always fights back. After him, Ms Toyin Akinniyi, a programme officer with the Centre gave the vote of thanks.

The award presentation event which had over three hundred people in attendance featured media practitioners, lawyers, teachers and students of journalism; leaders of the civil society, political officers, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives of corporate institutions.

Full citations of the winning works click here

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