Nigerian journalist wins 2018 African fact-checking award

Mr Chikezie Omeje
Mr Chikezie Omeje

A Nigerian journalist, Chikezie Omeje, has won the 2018 African fact-checking award.

Mr Omeje, a senior investigative and data reporter with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Abuja, was announced as the winner of the award on Tuesday at the African Investigative Journalism Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mr Omeje’s winning entry was a report which invalidated claims by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of a drastic drop in pre-school enrolment in 2016 in Nigeria.

The NBS was said to have pulled down the report which contained the claims, immediately Mr Omeje’s report was published.

Jason Norwood-Young of South Africa’s Daily Maverick was the runner-up.

Moussa Ngom, from Senegal’s Cesti School of Journalism, beat Ibrahim Alawode of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, to win the student category of the award. Mr Alawode’s entry was published on Dubawa, a prominent fact-checking platform in Nigeria.

Frank Kruger, the chair of the jury, said the jury decided not to give an award for a third category – best body of work category – because of an insufficient number of entries and the unsatisfactory standard of the entries submitted.

Mr Kruger said the awards were judged using four criteria – the significance for the wider society of the claim investigated; how the claim was tested against the available evidence; how well the piece presented the evidence for and against the claim, and the impact the publication had on the public debate on the topic.

African fact-checking award is organised annually by Africa Check, an independent and non-partisan fact-checking organisation.

David Ajikobi, Nigeria’s editor of Africa Check, said the organisation is active in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Senegal.

Mr Ajikobi said part of the goals of Africa Check is to help in identifying and reducing the circulation of false statements and supporting a network of new fact-checking organisations.

The award, which is in its fifth year, is to encourage the practice of fact-checking, Mr Ajikobi said, adding that for this year’s award, over 150 entries from more than 20 countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, were received.

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