A reporter with PREMIUM TIMES, Nigeria’s leading investigative newspaper, Emmanuel Ogala, was on Wednesday named Nigeria’s Investigative Journalist of the Year 2015.
At this year’s edition of the Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Awards, held in Lagos, Mr. Ogala, the paper’s head of digital strategy, was named winner of the online category of the awards.
But shortly afterwards, he was called back to the podium to receive the biggest prize of the night after his entry was declared the best for the year.
It is the third time in four years that a reporter from PREMIUM TIMES would be declared winner of the overall prize.
The judges said Mr. Ogala’s entry, titled, “INVESTIGATION: Jonathan, Alison-Madueke, Tunde Ayeni named in fraudulent oil contracts that cost Nigeria billions” was excellently researched and well written.
The report uncovered one of the most fraudulent crude oil deals carried out by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, which saw cronies of the then president pocketing billions of naira through a domestic crude oil transportation contract that violated Nigeria’s procurement and economic regulations.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation later admitted the contract was indeed exorbitant and that the contractors were inappropriately hired. The corporation immediately cancelled the deal.
The judges praised the reporter for his professionalism, courage and industry.
To win the online category, Mr. Ogala defeated Fisayo Soyombo of The Cable and Bassey Udo, another PREMIUM TIMES reporter.
Mr. Soyombo emerged runner-up with his series, ‘Ebola in Liberia, an account of the corruption in the management of the Ebola Fund, while Mr. Udo, was commended for his story, “Investigation: Inside the huge scam leading to sale of Nigeria’s aluminium plant, ALSCON, to Russia’s RUSAL.”
Mr. Udo’s article highlighted the intrigues, corruption and manipulation in the privatization of ALSCON by corrupt Nigerian politicians and their crooked international collaborators.
Nine other journalists, representing various media establishments, also went home with different awards for their outstanding works.
Five of them were enlisted as Wole Soyinka Laureates with their emergence as top winners, while four others emerged runners-up, with three others receiving commendation certificates for exemplary works.
Adekunle Yusuf of The Nation, who emerged winner in the Print category with his entry, ‘Inside the Oil Deals That Cost Nigeria Billions’, also received commendation for his story, ‘How Corruption, Leadership Hamper NDLEA’s Drug War’.
Motunrayo Joel of The Punch Newspapers emerged runner-up in the Print category with her report titled ‘Ovum Trading: Inside Nigeria’s Multi-Million Naira Human Egg Business’, which drew public attention to the dangerous trend of trading in human eggs by young girls.
In the Photo Category, Ikechukwu Ibe of Daily Trust won the top prize with his photo titled: ‘Soldiers punish a civilian at Mararaba, Nasarawa State’, while a picture captioned, ‘Double Jeopardy’ by Adedayo Odusanya of The Punch was adjudged runner up.
Another photo, captioned, ‘Mercy please, mercy’, by Ayodele Ojo of The Sun, which featured vivid images of soldiers’ high handedness on civilians, was highly commended.
In the Editorial cartoon category, Chukwuemeka Emenike of The New Telegraph, picked the runner up award with his entry, ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’, while Asukwo Bassey’s cartoon, published in Business Day Newspapers, titled, ‘Chasing shadows’, which highlighted the challenges of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies in the fight against the menace, was selected winner in the category.
In the Broadcast category, Sumner Sambo of TV Continental won the award in Television category with his story on ‘Cattle Rustling in Northern Nigeria’, while Kikelomo Ifekoya of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) was commended in the Radio category with her entry on the increasing cases of domestic violence entitled, ‘Domestic violence against women’.
The event, marking the 10th anniversary of the awards by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, also featured the presentation of two honorary awards to two Nigerians who distinguished themselves in their professional callings.
Veteran broadcaster, Bimbo Oloyede, was conferred with the “Lifetime award for journalistic excellence”, while immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, was honoured with the “Anti-corruption defender award” during the ceremony witnessed by Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, after whom the award is named.
Mr. Soyinka attended the event with his wife, Folake, and presented a keynote.
Also in attendance were the Chairman of the Board of the WSCIJ, Ropo Sekoni and wife, Banke, along with representatives of the sponsor organisations, namely Deputy Ambassador, Netherlands Embassy, Michel Deelen, and the General Manger, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Deji Haastrup.
Others included Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, an associate Professor of Mass Communications, University of Lagos, who presented the 2015 judges’ report.