PREMIUM TIMES and its reporters shone like a million stars at the 2012 edition of the Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism Awards in Abeokuta on Sunday dominating other finalists and winning the biggest of the 17 awards handed out at the ceremony.
The paper’s Acting Editor and Head, Investigations, Idris Akinbajo, was announced the competition’s overall winner and named Nigeria’s Investigative Journalist of the Year, retaining an award he won at the 2011 edition of the awards.
Earlier, Mr. Akinbajo, an intrepid reporter with knack for deep analysis, had won in the online category with a series of groundbreaking reports which uncovered the monumental corruption in the execution of multi-billion naira Millennium Development Goals Projects. He worked on the three-part story for about a year, travelling across the country and talking to officials and ordinary people. What he found were shocking and the stories compelling.
Shortly before Mr. Akinbajo was named winner in the online category, his colleague, Ini Ekott, was announced second winner in the online category. Mr. Ekott, the paper’s Politics/Foreign Editor, is one of the most resourceful reporters in PREMIUM TIMES’ newsroom. He was honoured for a series of work which exposed the nauseating extravagance of the presidency and other top officials while millions of citizens wallow in poverty and disease.
“Ini is Nigeria’s best reporter when it comes to budget monitoring, analysis and following the money,” PREMIUM TIMES Managing Editor, Musikilu Mojeed, who edited the winning stories, said last night from the United States. “There is no doubt about that.”
Messrs Akinbajo and Ekott dedicated their awards to their colleagues in PREMIUM TIMES who have toiled hard and made personal sacrifices, including endangering their lives, to carve a place of pride for a newspaper that has operated largely on shoe-string budget in the last one year.
PREMIUM TIMES was formed a year ago by some former reporters of the defunct NEXT newspapers and a few of their friends who believe Nigeria needed a platform for deep and persistent reporting of issues in the country. The paper prides itself as offering the fastest breaking news and the deepest investigative reports.
Since it commenced operations a year ago, its reporters have won strings of national and international awards. Four of its reporters were finalists in this year’s CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards.
Mr. Akinbajo was named the Future Awards’ 2012 Young Person of the Year while its Managing Editor, Mr. Mojeed, was awarded the prestigious John S. Knight Fellowship in Stanford and named finalist in this year’s Kurt Schork Awards, a global journalism competition.
“We are proud of the contribution our paper is making to strengthening governance in Nigeria and helping citizens to hold the government accountable,” Chairman of the paper’s board, Nasir Abdullahi, enthused after he was briefed of the awards. “We are here for the Nigerian people, and we are still very far from where we want to be.”
Below is list of the awards handed out at the awards ceremony.
- Lifetime Award for Media Excellence awarded to Benson Idonijie, a leading broadcast historian
- Balarabe Musa got the 2012 Anti-Corruption Defender Award.
- Idris Akinbajo of PREMIUM TIMES named Nigeria’s Best Investigative Reporter, an award he won in 2011
- Idris Akinbajo of PREMIUM TIMES won Online category award.
- Ini Ekot of PREMIUM TIMES was runner-up in the online category.
- Seun Akioye of Compass Newspapers won in the Print Category.
- Theophilus Abbah of Daily Trust was runner-up for Print
- Olatunji Obasa of Punch Newspapers won in the Photojournalism category
- Asuquo Etim Bassey of Business Day won in the Editorial Cartooning category
- Albert Ohams of Sun Newspapers was runnerup for editorial cartooning category
- Yinka Adeparusi of National Mirror was runner-up in Photo journalism category
- Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television commended in the TV category
- Tobore Ovuorie of National Mirror won the Health Category award.
- Eunice Ayo Akerele of Punch Newspapers won runner-up prize in the Health Category
- Lucas Olumuyiwa Morenikeji of Tell Magazine was winner of the Local Government Category
- Anthony Akaeze of Newswatch Magazine was runner-up for Local Government reporting category.
- Arakaino Umukoro and Ayodeji Adeyemi of Tell got commendation award for Sports.
- Ereki Gabriel of Sun Newspapers got commendation for cartoon category.
- Thomas Abimbola of Guardian Newspapers was commended in the Print category
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