Three journalists who produced an investigative report for PREMIUM TIMES were on Saturday honoured for their work at the 2016 CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards.
At the awards ceremonies held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ogechi Ekeanyanwu, until recently a reporter for this newspaper, as well as Yemisi Akinbobola and Paul Bradshaw of IQ4News were pronounced winner of the sports category of the annual awards, which honour exceptional journalism on the African continent.
The two parts report which gave Ms. Ekeanyanwu and her colleagues the prize investigated the trafficking of Nigeria’s young footballers by rogue coaches and was published on December 7, 2015.
The report, titled ‘How Nigerian young footballers are trafficked, abused, abroad’ detailed the dangerous sojourn of young footballers in their quest for greener pastures abroad.
Another Nigerian journalist, Chika Oduah, a freelance, emerged victorious in the Dow Technology & Innovation Reporting category for her reporting that detailed the use of web-based app to call attention to deadly lead poisoning in Bagega, Zamfara State, Nigeria.
Four other Nigerians emerged runners-up in their respective categories.
Adedayo Oketola and Folashade Adebayo of The Punch emerged runner-ups in the General Electric Energy & Infrastructure and Dow Technology & Innovation reporting categories respectively.
While Veronica Onuchi, reporter and news anchor for TVC News was named runner-up in the Health and Medical reporting category, Eromo Egbejule, a freelance for Ventures Africa narrowly missed being named winner of the Maggie Eales Young Journalist award. He lost the prize to Ancillar Mangena of Forbes Africa.
The nomination of another Nigerian journalist, Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello of Naij.com, was however withdrawn by the judges, and she was not invited to the awards ceremony.
Officials said the nomination had to be withdrawn for ethical reasons.
“Judges asked her to substantiate the claims made in the report but she couldn’t, ” one official said.
Ms. Ogunleye-Bello confirmed that she was asked to provide facts and documents to back her report, but that judges ruled that her explanations were not satisfactory.
She insisted that she did not manufacture the report and wondered why people had to contact judges to raise doubts about her work.
The biggest prize of the night was however carted away by two Kenya journalists, Asha Ahmed Mwilu and Rashid Idi, who work for Kenya Television Network.
The duo were named 2016 African Journalists of the Year after initially winning the top prize in the News Impact Category for their in-depth investigative documentary about security at the Kenya-Somali border.
“It’s a high impact story told in the wake of Kenya’s plans to build a wall at her border with Somalia,” judges said.
Thirty-six finalists from 14 countries attended Saturday’s award ceremonies, which also had hundreds of leading media players from within and outside the continent in attendance.