Samson Folarin of The PUNCH was among the 13 journalists who emerged winners at the 2019 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.
The winners were awarded at the 14th edition of the investigative award’s presentation event held at Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday.
Folarin won the print category of the award for his nine-part investigative report, “Certificate, plagiarism, scandal rocks UNIZIK”, which revealed academic fraud, intrigues, poor governance and subterfuge involving, Peter Ekemezie, who masqueraded as a “scholar” for years.
Also, Oladimeji Ramon of The PUNCH was commended for his story “Lagos Mobile Court Where the Innocent, Guilty are Sent to Prison”.
Apart from the journalists, Amnesty International Nigeria and veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole, were also honoured.
Chinwe Agbeze of the Sun Newspaper emerged runner-up for her two-part investigative serial “Corruption ruins FG’s N7bn Unity Schools’ security project”.
In the photography category, Odutayo Odusanya of The PUNCH emerged runner-up for his visual story “Child Labour”.
He was runner-up in the photo category in 2015. Saheed Olugbon, also of The PUNCH, was commended for his photo “Fifteen Years after Retirement, Struggle Continues”.
Ayodele Adeniran of Guardian was commended for his photo entry “Pupils lament pain, long trek in search of knowledge”.
For her five-part entry “Alleged Police Extra-Judicial Killing of Madam Basirat Akinmushire’’, Mary Abayomi-Fatile of Radio Nigeria was the only reporter recognised in the radio category.
She was commended for her report. Whereas, there was no winner in the television category, Sharon Ijasan of Television Continental, a 2018 winner of the category, emerged runner-up for her two-part report, “Child rights, labour laws violated by Chinese companies”.
Samuel-Wemimo Bukola, also of TVC was commended for her investigation “Depression and Suicide”.
The Next Edition editor, Isine Ibanga, won the online category for his two-part serial “How Bribe Taking Security Operatives/Gangs Force Nigerians to Pay Dearly for Food”.
Ibanga was a runner-up in the category in 2014. Chikezie Omeje of International Centre for Investigative Reporting emerged runner-up in the category for his story “Million meant for combating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria end up in private pockets”.
Damilola Banjo of Sahara Reporters was commended in the category for her four-part serial “Blood-Thirsty Demons of Zamfara”.
A statement from the WSCIJ said, “The winners and runners-ups got cash prizes of N100,000 and N50,000 respectively, plus a certificate of commendation.”
The Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence was conferred on Smart-Cole while the Human Rights Specialty of the Anti-Corruption Defender Award went to Amnesty International Nigeria.
Board Chairman of the WSCIJ, Ropo Sekoni, congratulated the category winners and the honorary award recipients for the great work they do in making governance accountable.
Sekoni remarked that the time for the award presentation event was appropriate considering the tension in the air about raging controversies between the government and the media on the importance of freedom of expression and the rule of law to consolidation of democracy.
Umaru Pate, Chairman, 2019 Judges’ Board, applauded the finalists for the quality of entries received across the six categories.
He said, “In spite of all odds in the media sector and particularly in investigative reporting, much is being done by dogged journalists to still uncover issues. He, however, observed on behalf of the Judges that there is a need for a better quality report, through deeper investigation and thorough editing.”
Below are the 2019 award winners from different categories:
Samson Folarin – Punch (Winner)
Chinwe Agbeze – The Sun (Runner-up)
Oladimeji Ramon – Punch (Commendation Award)
Odutayo Odusanya – Punch Newspaper (Runner-up)
Saheed Olugbon – Punch (Commendation Award)
Ayodele Adeniran – Guardian (Commendation Award)
Isine Ibanga – The Next Edition Newspaper (Winner)
Chikezie Omeje – International Centre for Investigative Reporting ( 1st Runner-up)
Damilola Banjo – Sahara Reporters (Commendation Award)
Editorial Cartoon Category
Albert Ohams – The Sun (Commendation Award)
Mary Abayomi Fatile – FRCN (Commendation Award)
Sharon Ijasan – TVC (Runner-up)
Bukola Samuel Wemimo – TVC (Commendation Award)