PUNCH reporters win Wole Soyinka, African awards

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A senior correspondent with PUNCH Newspapers, Deji Lambo, has been honoured as the Photojournalist of the Year at the 17th Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting.

Lambo alongside 12 investigative journalists were honoured for their contributions in investigative journalism at the award ceremony held in Ikeja, Lagos on Friday.

Obasa Olatunji, formerly a photojournalist with PUNCH was also recognised for a photo published on the front page of the newspaper about the mood of pensioners during a protest in Abuja.

The Chairperson, WSCIJ 2022 Judges’ Committee, Prof Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, said Lambo’s photos won the best in the category because it raised issues of concern.

Lambo had written an investigative story alongside numerous pictures on the hazard of ponmo’s consumption in the country.

Ogwezzy-Ndisika described the photos as creative and newsworthy, adding, “The sequences of the winning entry from processing till packaging of the food item exposed elements of clandestine activities and corruption among the government officials who know about sharp practices in the value chain of food items that are hazardous to the health of Nigerians but turn a blind eye to the problem because of gratification.

“It also brought to the fore how Nigerian citizens value high profits over the lives of their fellow citizens. Another photo entry is commended for capturing the emotions of citizens who are traumatised over the the kidnap of their loved ones.”

Hassan Adebayo of Premium Times won the overall investigative journalist of the year and the best investigative story for the online category.

Juliana Francis of the New Telegraph won the best investigative journalist in the Print category, while Babatunde Okunlola won the best investigative journalist in the Radio category.

Abdulaziz Abdulaziz of the Trust TV won the best TV investigative report, while Victor Asowata of The Will won the editorial cartoon of the year.

Others like Olanrewaju Oyedeji of Dataphyte, Zainab Bala of Trust TV, and Gbenga Salau of The Guardian were commended for their bravery and dedication to carrying out investigative reports.

Chukwuemeka Emenike of the New Telegraph, Amandi Uyi of News Central, and Folashade Ogunrinde of TV360 Nigeria won the runners-up in the Cartoon, TV and Online categories respectively.

The Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting honours outstanding journalists in the print, radio, television, photo, cartoon and online categories, who focus on themes from regulatory failures, corruption in the public and corporate spheres, and human rights abuses in the country. It has produced 109 finalists, 56 Soyinka laureates, and 12 investigative journalists.

The Executive Director/CEO, WSCIJ, Motunrayo Alaka, said the 13 finalists were selected out of the 218 applications received for the award.

She added, “The quality of journalism affects the quality of democracy. Accountability journalism and the democracy it supports, however, face threats daily. A day to celebrate our champions – the investigative journalists – who defy the odds, sacrifice personal interests and risk their lives in the line of duty for people and country is in order.

“The cost of accountability journalism became even higher since 2020 as journalists faced the raging pandemic to get the stories despite unfavourable laws, the shutdown of many government institutions to reporters, job lay-offs, limited resources and the possibility of getting sick or dying. As Nigeria approaches another election year, the heat on our profession is fiercer.

“Despite these numerous challenges, many journalists hold both government and citizens accountable. To acknowledge this endeavour which guarantees the sanctity of our civic space, the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism has made it a duty to reward phenomenal works and encourage the culture of investigative journalism.”

Earlier, a correspondent with the Weekend Titles of PUNCH, Janet Ogundepo, won the 2022 African Media Development Foundation Journalist of the Year Award.

She beat two other finalists from Nigeria to win the coveted award in a virtual event on Wednesday.

A Senior Correspondent with the Weekend Titles, Alexander Okere, emerged as the first runner-up, while Sunday Isuwa of Leadership Newspaper emerged as the second runner-up. They were both  presented with certificates of commendation.

The Chief Judge of the award committee, Joseph Edegbo, while commending Ogundepo, noted that her story “demonstrated the best practice in journalism”.

Entries were received from Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria.

A veteran journalist, Yinusa Aliyu, was also honoured for journalistic excellence.


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