Two reporters from Nigeria’s leading investigative paper, PREMIUM TIMES, have been nominated for this year’s CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards.
Metro Editor, Ben Ezeamalu and Chief Digital Strategist, Emmanuel Ogala, will join 26 other finalists from 10 countries for an all-expenses paid finalists’ programme where prizes will be handed out to category and overall winners.
Three other Nigerian reporters – Obinna Emelike [BusinessDay], Olatunji Ololade [The Nation] and Bayo Olupohunda [The Punch] – were also nominated for the awards.
Find full list of nominees below.
Winners of the competition will be announced at an award event and gala night in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on October 18.
The gala, to be hosted by CNN International anchor and correspondent, Isha Sesay, will be preceded by an all-expenses paid four-day programme of workshops, media forums and networking.
A statement announcing the finalists quoted Tony Maddox, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of CNN International as praising “the quality and excellence of work” in the competition.
At PREMIUM TIMES’ newsroom in Abuja Friday, staff were in a boisterous mood, cheering the two nominees for doing their young newspaper proud.
“We are excited that the work we do here has continued to earn recognition around the world,” the paper’s Managing Editor, Musikilu Mojeed, said. “We are still very far from where we want to be but recognitions like this have a way of spurring our team to do more. We will remain true to our mission of entrenching probity and accountability in our country while holding authorities and individuals accountable.”
Messrs Ezeamalu and Ogala were nominated for their joint investigative and innovative work on the operation of the Lagos – Kano train route which the Nigerian government revived in December 2012.
While Mr. Ezeamalu made the about 61-hour return journey to Kano by the train, live-blogging his experiences and developments on the locomotive all the way, Mr. Ogala remained in the newspaper’s office in Abuja throughout the period, researching, directing coverage, editing dispatches and publishing them in multimedia formats.
The main objective of the trip was to observe the teething challenges, if any, and how efficient and convenient the trains were for passengers.
The two journalists, who trained as scientists, cut their professional teeth at the now defunct NEXT newspaper. Mr. Ezeamalu was one of that paper’s most resourceful metro reporters in Lagos while Mr. Ogala was on the paper’s well-regarded parliamentary reporting team in Abuja.
The two reporters moved on to help start PREMIUM TIMES when NEXT stopped publishing its print edition in mid 2011.
News of the reporters’ nomination came exactly three months after PREMIUM TIMES was named winner of the Special Category in this year’s One World Media Awards in London.
Phil Harding, vice chair of the One World Media’s Board of Trustees, who presented the award, praised the paper for its professionalism and exceptional work.
PREMIUM TIMES also dominated the 2013 edition of the Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Awards with four of its reporters emerging overall winners in various categories, including the Investigative Journalist of the Year. Mr. Ogala’s work on Internet spying by the Nigerian government received commendation at that award.
It was the third year running that reporters from the newspaper emerged Nigeria’s Investigative Journalists of the Year.
PREMIUM TIMES is an independent Nigerian investigative newspaper reputed for exposing official corruption, human rights abuses and government inefficiency and the reign of impunity in the land.
The paper, which began publishing in late 2011, is known for offering the fastest breaking news and the deepest investigative reports about Nigeria.
Readers have also provided feedback describing PREMIUM TIMES as the number one platform for investigative and multimedia journalism in Nigeria, reporting on issues routinely avoided by older media-particularly on corruption in high places.
The paper has broken some of the biggest anti-corruption stories in Nigeria in the past two years. Indeed, it was the only Nigerian medium (and only one of two from Africa-the other being Mail & Guardian of South Africa) invited by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to participate in the recent globally acclaimed groundbreaking investigation into tax haven.
Below is a list of the 28 finalists from 10 countries:
Daniel Biaou Adje, ORTB, Benin
Safia Berkouk, El Watan, Algeria
Vinayak Bhardwaj & Tabelo Timse, M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Romão Brandão, Jornal OPAÍS, Angola
Sean Christie, Freelance for Landbouweekblad and The Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Obinna Emelike, Business Day, Nigeria
Ben Ezeamalu & Emmanuel Ogala, Premium Times, Nigeria
Bob Koigi, Farmbizafrica.com, Kenya
Joseph Mathenge, Freelance for The Saturday Nation, Kenya
Anne Mawathe & Rashid Ibrahim, Citizen TV, Kenya
Patrick Mayoyo, Daily Nation, Kenya
Christine Muthee & Oliver Oscar Ochanda, Media Development in Africa (MEDEVA), Kenya
Dickson Ng’hily, The Guardian, Tanzania
John Muchangi Njiru, The Star Newspaper, Kenya
Olatunji Ololade, The Nation Newspaper, Nigeria
Bayo Olupohunda, Columnist, Punch Newspaper, Nigeria
Ossène Ouattara, Infoduzanzan.com, Côte d’Ivoire
Brito Simango, Televisão de Moçambique, Moçambique
Joy Summers & Susan Comrie, Mnet Carte Blanche, South Africa
Suy Kahofi, Freelance for West Africa Democracy Radio, Senegal
Paballo Thekiso, Saturday Star, South Africa
Bento Venancio, Jornal Domingo, Moçambique
Evelyn Watta, Sportsnewsarena.com, Kenya