WOLE SOYINKA AWARD FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Winning Works 2009
Emmanuel Mayah’s work, The N3 Billion Tobacco Smuggling Ring won the award in the print category. The winning entry/work, an undercover report of a transnational crime saw him travelling through the longest smuggling route in West Africa – Senegal, Togo, Benin Republic, Niger and Nigeria – tracking the activities of high-profile tobacco smugglers and their foot soldiers. The investigations revealed other associated crimes –murders, human rights abuses, extortion, and intimidation, among others. The investigation which took him more than five months to conclude also brought incessant threats to his life, and, finally, reduced trafficking activities.
The winning entry, The Mercenaries take over submitted by Nicholas Ibekwe, explores the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria, exposing the illegal activities of foreign mercenary groups who thrive on the insecure environment in the region and under the guise of being “Risk Management Consultants” aid the spread and violent activities of militants in the region.
Bayoor Ewuoso’s photo entry, Rice from Cotonou, comments on the regulatory failure and corruption that characterize the Nigeria-Benin Republic border. Contraband food items find their way into Nigeria from Benin Republic; Smugglers can go scot-free and have a field day once they have bribed the security agents at the border. Today it’s rice, tomorrow it could be lethal weapons of mass destruction.
In the Climate Change category, Adejuwon Soyinka’s story, The fury of Nature, details the devastating effects of the heavy rains that characterised the year 2009 across Nigeria. Using Cross Rivers state as a case study, he discusses the effects of climate change on several communities in the country. The reports of his investigations chronicle the loss of lives, the internal displacement of people, droughts followed by severe flooding, desert encroachment, among other excruciating effects of climate change on the country. His perseverance as evinced in dangerous travels at odd hours of the day and bravery in treading environmental disaster zones is laudable.
Deji Badmus, after a one-month investigation into the killing of a certain Bayo Awosika, released a report titled “Extra-judicial killing: Death of Bayo Awosika”, a report which caused a great stir in both the Lagos State arm of the Nigeria police force and the Lagos state government, and eventually revealed the actual circumstances surrounding the murder. Though accused of harbouring ulterior motives, Mr. Badmus did not relent in the quest for justice until the perpetrator of the gruesome act was identified.
Solomon Adebayo’s work, Extortion in the prisons, is a three-part report detailing corrupt practices of prison officers across Nigeria. Solomon, throughout his visits to the prisons, had to conceal his tape recorder and dare the consequences of his act being discovered. The effects of the investigative reports are already evident and include a drastic change in the activities in about 287 prisons across Nigeria. Where visitors to prisons were once extorted prior to the publication of the reports, due process is now being followed and inmates’ visitors are no longer intimidated or extorted.