WOLE SOYINKA AWARD FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Winning Works 2016
Winner: Mojeed Alabi
Mojeed Alabi’s two-part story, Inside Nigeria’s N201.79 Billion Budget of Fraud, published on 30 January and 2 April, 2016 by the New Telegraph newspaper, is yet another tale of mammoth corruption fueled by political patronage.
Mojeed shows in his report how sometimes unregistered companies, owned by members of the National Assembly or their associates, are awarded capital project contracts without following due procurement process, using examples from a number of South Western states between 2012 and 2014.
Among others, Two billion, six hundred ninety-three million, two hundred and forty-five thousand, four hundred and one naira (N2, 693, 245. 401) was allocated for the reconstruction of the 27.3kilometres single-lane Ilesha-Osogbo road. According to the report, the contract award went to Horizon Construction Company Limited, which is owned by Gbenga Onigboji, who was a member of the House of Representatives representing Ijesha South Federal Constituency of Osun state as at the time of the allocation.
Commuters and evidence gathered from the site, reveal that the road, which has received an award of N1, 843, 023, 562billion, as at the time of the report, is in a worst state than it was before the now abandoned project was commenced.
Mojeed Alabi probed discreet documents, visited various project sites across the Southwest, and questioned multiple sources for four months to unravel the story. Before the piece was published, there were attempts by the concerned politicians to stop the story pledging to make amends to the injustice done against the affected communities.
Mojeed Alabi, a reporter with over six years experience, is today celebrated as the winner of the print category of the 2016 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting, for his unswerving resourcefulness in budget tracking for accountability and open government.
Runner up: Oluwatobi Aworinde
Oluwatobi Aworinde, a reporter with The Punch Newspaper, went undercover to move the speculation on connivance for malpractices in national examinations to the realm of reality, by providing hard evidence of the practice in the National Examination Council (NECO).
The reporter registered and disguised as a student of Nodos International School in the Ojo area of Lagos State, to write the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations, as an external candidate using the fake name, Oluwatosin Joseph Adedayo.
His narrative, videos and photographic records which were published as a two-part report – PUNCH undercover reporter exposes mass cheating at NECO miracle centre and Lagos shuts NECO miracle centre after PUNCH report, on 8 November and 6 December 2015 respectively, came at great risk.
The report exposed a cartel of examination liaisons which involved registration centre personnel, corrupt regulatory agents, school officials and invigilators as well as webmasters who had devised a way of providing candidates with answers to exam questions for a fee.
Through the fraudulent process, Oluwatobi with his fake identity was able to obtain a B in English and five Cs in all other subjects including Mathematics. He however scored an E in Literature, the only subject with an incorruptible NECO invigilator. His report consequently led to the shutdown of the school by the state government and a full-scale investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
Oluwatobi Aworinde’s outstanding piece is yet another proof of the need for urgent attention to education in Nigeria. Today, Oluwatobi is honoured, for his initiative and resilience, as a runner-up in the print category of the 2016 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.
Commended work: Sebastine Ebhomhan
The stories published on 5, 12 and 19 December 2015, by the National Mirror newspaper are compilations of personally funded data from interviews of victims, civil society organisations, government institutions and other non-state actors.
Indeed, all Nigerian security agencies have been accused of extra-judicial killings at one time or the other, but very little has been done to correct the menace. Sebastine’s piece reminds us of a depressing fact – life is worth very little in this part of the world.
Sebastine who was the second runner-up in the print category of the maiden Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting in 2005, is hereby commended for his dedication to following up on the injustice done by custodians of justice.
Winner: Fisayo Soyombo
Soldiers, the defenders of Nigeria’s territorial integrity, who despite their many flaws, have fought hard and often pay the ultimate price for their quest, are the heroes in Fisayo Soyombo’s story – Forgotten Soldiers. The piece is a five-part investigative series published on The Cable. It discloses the state of Nigerian soldiers who were injured in battle with the Boko Haram sect and their appalling neglect.
Two leading military hospitals – Federal Medical Centre Gombe and 44 Nigerian Army Reference hospital, where soldiers manually fan their gunshot wounds due to power outage and are sometimes left untreated till their conditions degenerate, feature in Fisayo’s story.
Some of the forgotten soldiers have not seen their families for three years due to the failure of the authorities to keep to their promise of regular rotation. Others who have had their legs or arms amputated after injuries are yet to get prosthesis promised by the government. Even widows of soldiers are unable to get any compensation for their loss. Fisayo also gives a sneak-peek into the love-story of some of the soldiers whose lovers have stayed committed to supporting them despite hard-to-face circumstances.
There is a lot of money being spent on rebuilding the city but who will rebuild the lives of the people especially the soldiers who lead the battle? “Is this the same country we fought for, the one we risked our lives for?, the soldiers ask.
In June 2016, Fisayo Soyombo went to Borno State, Northeastern secretly taking videos, pictures and documentations. After the story was published on 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 June 2016, the Nigerian army accused him of committing subversion, which is a treasonable offence punishable with death in the military. His report led to various donations from well-meaning Nigerians to assist soldiers.
For his daredevil prowess to tell as often-underrated story, Fisayo, is today acclaimed, winner of the online category of the 2016 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.
Runner up: Femi Owolabi
Femi Owolabi’ s deep report, The blight on humanity and the resilience of a people: The Maiduguri reality, published on 5 & 9 October, 19 November and 12 December, 2015, on The Cable, is a tale of foot prints of insurgency, the loyalty of disgruntled soldiers, strength of displaced persons and other victims of the mayhem of the Boko Haram sect.
Femi narrates the ordeal of many victims of the insurgence; Nigerian soldiers, national youth service corps members, displaced persons and other citizens who live face-to-face with the reality of the terror unleashed on our common existence. Children have been orphaned, spouses widowed, businesses stopped, properties razed, once able-bodied persons disabled and homeowners turned fugitive, with inadequate attention from the government and other stakeholders. Yet, the people continue to be resilient. They support their communities with the hope of rebuilding lost glory.
The reporter journeyed through the northeast and escaped death in a bomb blast at Damaturu, Yobe state, while covering his story.
Owolabi, a graduate of chemical engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, is the runner-up of the online category of the 2016 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism.
Commended work: Fisayo Soyombo
The Undercover Investigation: Nigeria’s Customs of corruption, bribery and forgery, borne out of nine-straight working days of investigations, is a story exposing the fraudulent practices of the officials of the Nigeria Customs Services, NCS which short-changes the country of at least two-thirds of revenue that should be generated by the agency.
Fisayo Soyombo, Editor of The Cable Newspaper, first disguised as a hapless job seeker; later as a trainee-clearing agent; then as an intending importer to penetrate the fraudulent ring of the NCS.
Corruption at the Customs is a huge conspiracy. Officials of the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), State Security Service (SSS), National Law enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) and Nigerian Port Authority, are all part of the decadent system that makes business difficult for port clients and robs the government of billions.
Fisayo’s story led to the raid of the home of the former comptroller-general of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and consequent charges of corruption on him. Fisayo Soyombo is today commended for his doggedness to uncover the rot.
Winner: Kunle Ajayi
Kunle Ajayi’s photograph titled; Freebie Erodes Dignity, is a visually arresting image of a woman who subjects herself to some indignity in her desperation to join an already crowded free train ride to Osun state through the train window at the Iddo Terminus in Lagos.
The work, which was published in the Daily Independent newspaper on 17 September 2016, clearly depicts the hardship and risk to life that Nigerian citizens go through to save costs and survive in an economically depressed country.
Kunle Ajayi won the photo category of the 2014 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting. He is today again, winner of the photo category in the 2016 Wole Soyinka Awards.
Runner up: Ayodele Ojo
Police is your friend. Nigerians have heard this cued in their ears for many years. Ayodele Ojo’s work, The Police is your friend; published on 4 August 2016 in The Sun newspaper reminds us of a sad reality which negates the claim of friendship of the Nigerian Police.
The photograph shows a policeman bent on choking a tricycle rider, who had refused to give him a bribe. It was taken in the morning at Ikeja under bridge, Awolowo way, Ikeja, Lagos.
The picture adds to the now massive catalogue of consistent police brutality, a violation of human rights and negation of the purpose of the Nigerian Police.
Ayodele Ojo, made the list of commended works last year. He is now runner-up of the photo category of the 2016 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.