WOLE SOYINKA AWARD FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Winning Works 2018
Winner: Mojeed Alabi
Mojeed Alabi is a correspondent at the New Telegraph Newspaper. His two-part story titled “Exposed! Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker In 1.1bn Water Contract Scam”, was published on 24th and 25th May 2018. It exposes the fraudulent shenanigans of government officials in the award and execution of water projects in Ipetu-Ijesha, Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan, Osun State, through the National Assembly’s Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP).
Evidences according to Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), the contract-supervising agency responsible for awarding the contract, showed that shortly after the handover of the project, Osun State Water Corporation returned the Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan plants to OORBDA due to defects. The contractor responsible for both plants is Nur and Company Nigeria Limited, owned by Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, Mr Lasun Yusuff. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Part 5 (VI) and Section 25 to 38 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 however forbid public officials from participating in or awarding contracts.
After the piece was published, Mr. Yusuf Adelani Yusuf the younger brother of the Deputy Speaker visited the reporter’s family house and threatened the writer’s septuagenarian mother. Mojeed also received threat calls and noticed he was being monitored on social media.
Runner up: Chinwe Agbeze
Chinwe Agbeze, an Investigation/Business Correspondent at Business Day Media Limited, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics and Communication Studies from the University of Port Harcourt and a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
Upon viewing a virile video alleging that public primary school pupils covered under the Federal Government’s school feeding programme were poorly fed, Chinwe embarked on an undercover investigation of the claim. Her story showed that some government officials were pocketing funds meant for feeding the pupils.
Chinwe, who was commended for her story ‘Cheese Balls Company where slavery goes on’, in the print category of the 2017 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting, is honoured as the runner-up for the same category this year.
Winner: Abdulaziz Abdulaziz
The Online category winning work, “The Kemi Adeosun Expose”, is a five-part series by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, published on Premium Times between 21st April and 12th July 2018. The bulky work of investigations was carried out over five months. It started as allegations of reckless spending in the National Assembly but soon became a revelation about a certificate scandal at the centre of a possible blackmail ring and public sector corruption.
The investigation uncovered a suspicious relationship between Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun and members of the National Assembly (NASS). Kemi Adeosun had approved worryingly large sums – up to N10billion, for NASS. Abdulaziz Abdulaziz followed through, and discovered how the money was spent on exotic cars, and other sundry purported payments.
The graduate of English from Bayero University Kano and Associate Editor with Premium Times found that the minister financed the legislature illegally probably because the lawmakers were using a problem with the authenticity of her National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) Certificate of Exemption to intimidate her.
The revelations from the story led to public outcry and demand for accountability by various pressure groups including an unrepentant social media audience until Adeosun resigned her position.
Abdulaziz’s story is a good example of following the trail to expose wrong doing. It is today celebrated as the winner of the online category of the 2018 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.
Runner up: Kemi Busari
Kemi Busari is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he studied Political Science. Starting his journalism career as a campus journalist, Kemi is currently a National Assembly Correspondent for Premium Times.
He is clinching the prize for a second time, as he was also the runner-up in the online category of the 2017 edition of the award. His three-part story “Investigation: The appalling, risky state of Nigeria’s multi-billion Naira nuclear technology centre”, was published in Premium Times of 21st, 27th January and 12th August 2018. The investigation, which took him four months, is an exposé of the sorry state of Africa’s first and Nigeria’s only nuclear technology centre, the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC). Kemi disguised as a wanderer, to breach the security barriers at the centre.
The investigation revealed that the poor management of the centre’s gamma irradiation facility threatens nuclear explosion in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The story also beamed a searchlight on the activities of dubious contractors handling projects within the centre. A follow-up story by Kemi further shows that two of the three major abandoned projects have been completed, security has been beefed up at the centre and new policies is being considered on managing the facility.
Commended work: Oladeinde Olawoyin
Disturbed by a 2015 World Health Organisation (WHO) report that one in four car crash deaths in Africa occurred in Nigeria, and a Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) report which linked the deaths to poor quality of roads and drivers, Oladeinde Olawoyin, a metro reporter at Premium Times, embarked on an investigation into the driver’s licensing system in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Kwara states, where the FRSC report had shown crashes were prevalent.
His two-part story “Investigation: Inside Nigeria’s Drivers’ License Fraud and How Officials Dupe Applicants”, published on Premium Times on 21st July and 15th August 2018, detailed how corrupt FRSC officials riding on the agency’s poor regulatory system to give licenses to unqualified applicants leading to endangered crashes and death of many Nigerians.
By September, the FRSC had sanctioned 71 driving schools. Many were suspended from its portal indefinitely. The corps also announced that it would partner with the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute corrupt operators and members of staff.
Winner: Kolawole Aliu
Kolawole Aliu is a member of the Photojournalist Association of Nigeria (PJAN) and has worked with up to 5 national newspaper publications. His photograph captioned “The Menace of Lagos State Task Force on People” was published in the Leadership newspaper on 19th March 2018.
It is a visually griping highlight of the excesses of Nigeria’s security agents. It shows a police taskforce jacking up a man off the ground while implementing the eviction of habitants of shanties at Lagos Abattoir Agege.
The work clearly depicts the overzealousness of law enforcement officers who go beyond their constituted authority and sometimes adopt techniques that are negate the principles of human rights.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. Economic challenges and the absence of definitive social safety in Nigeria means living in shanties is the only option some have. The photo is a case study of a dysfunctional social structure as well as a call on stakeholders to call to order the excesses of police taskforce.
Commended Work: Ovadje Eguriase Elliot
Elliot Ovadje’s photo titled “Slums around us” published in Saturday Tribune of 1st September 2018 captured the plight of people living and raising their children in some Lagos slums. The first photo shows a man forced to sleep outside his own house due to the devastation caused by flood in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos. The other picture shows a boy being led by the mother through a wooden walkway on top of a flooded area to access his school, in Owode community Lagos.
Elliot Ovadje’swork is a sad reflection of the gaps in social welfare that makes Nigeria significantly distant from the Sustainable Development Goals.
Commended Work: Cornelius Chukwuemeka Emenike
Trained as a fine artist, with specialisation in painting, Cornelius Chukwuemeka Emenike is the Assistant Chief Cartoonist at The New Telegraph Newspaper. His cartoon, “Allowances for Senators and Governors”, was published 20th March 2018 following Senator Shehu Sani’s revelation that each Senator in Nigeria’s National Assembly collects a monthly running cost of N13.5 million in addition to the monthly salary of N750, 000.
With the cartoon, Chukwuemeka conveyed the editorial position of The New Telegraph on the oceanic gap between the monthly earnings of the political class and the current N18,000 minimum wage and the fact that the Senators have labeled all demands about the need for an open National Assembly into hate speech in one sketch.
Commended Work: Bennett Omeke
Starting his career as a trainee cartoonist with Punch Newspaper in 1995, Bennett Omeke currently works as a staff cartoonist with the newspaper. His cartoons have been showcased in various exhibitions within and outside Nigeria, including Israel and the United Kingdom.
Bennett Omeke’s cartoon, “Corruption in NNPC”, published in The Punch newspaper on 6th October 2018 calls into question the proclaimed stance of President Muhammadu Buhari on Anti-Corruption while he appears to have kept silent on the allegation of insubordination and corruption leveled against Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
Winner: Sharon Ijasan
Sharon Ijasan is the Labour and Education Correspondent at Television Continental (TVC) and a mass communication graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism. Her two-part report “Funding Basic Education in Nigeria” aired on TVC exposes the nonchalant attitude of states towards basic education with a focus on 58-year-old African Bethel Public Primary School, the only public school serving seven communities in Ikorodu North, Lagos State.
Sharon Ijasan’s first visit in December 2017 revealed, students were learning under trees and parents whose children attend the school complained about the decay of basic infrastructure. The story led to 7 months of construction work on the school by the Lagos State Government through the state Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
This outstanding piece is yet another proof of the need for urgent attention to education in Nigeria.
Runner up: Olaoluwa Azeezat Abiola
A news anchor, presenter and reporter, Azeezat Abiola, is runner-up for the television category with her story “Failing health sector: Pregnant women seek cheaper alternatives” aired on Television Continental. Triggered by Nigeria’s high maternal and child mortality rate, she uncovered issues behind the growing clientele of pregnant women patronising Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).
Azeezat Abiola, visited some of the TBAs in Agege and Makoko slums of Lagos. For two months, she cajoled one of the TBAs until she was able to witness the labour and delivery of one of the pregnant women.
Her investigation revealed the high cost of accessing government hospitals and extortion at the root of the problem. She reported that herb-based clinics charge pregnant women between N500 and N20, 000 while the alternatives can be higher. She however reported that poor government regulation was aiding untrained birth attendants to operate freely across the country.
Winner: Chinelo Ozoalor
Chinelo Ozoalor has been at Radio Nigeria Enugu since 2005. Her story “NECO Paper Leak Enugu” was aired in two parts on Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Radio Nigeria), Enugu on 8th June 2018 and 17th June 2018.
Upon social media reports that answers to examinations conducted by the National Examination Council (NECO) could be assessed on some websites before each exam paper is taken, Chinelo embarked on an investigation to uncover details. She did not stop at just reporting the problem she went ahead to confirm that the answers given matched the current papers.
Her tenacity revealed that, NECO was simply complicit in the malaise. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was culpable for allowing such websites to remain and allowing telephone numbers to be used by cheats and the service provider, MTN, was also liable for failing to act decisively.
Chinelo Ozoralor has broken a nine-year jinx of finding an outstanding work for the radio category and is today honoured as the winner – radio for the 2018 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.