PREMIUM TIMES, Nigeria’s foremost investigative news platform, on Friday held its inaugural staff award ceremony.
The event, held in Abuja, was organised to reward and recognise staffers for their hard work and determination in the past year.
Musikilu Mojeed, PREMIUM TIMES Editor-in-Chief, said the programme is part of the company’s modest efforts to appreciate its staffers.
Mr Mojeed, who paid homage to his team, noted that staff members’ commitment to the ideals of the newspaper and indomitable spirit cannot be quantified in monetary and gift values.
He challenged the reporters and editors to do more in the new year and spread the newspaper’s cherished tradition of fact-based accountability journalism.
Being the maiden ceremony, only two categories of awards — “Reporter of the year” and “Stories of the year” — were given.
Idris Akinbajo, the paper’s managing editor, said going forward, the management would introduce new categories of awards.
Yusuf Akinpelu, former head of data desk, clinched the ‘Reporter of the Year’ award.
Having won 13 stories of the week and two stories of the month prizes in 2021, Mr Akinpelu was voted by the judges as the maiden reporter of the year.
Receiving the award, Mr Akinpelu said the recognition, which comes with a cash prize of N250,000, meant a lot to him adding: “it’s a “shot in the arm for me to do more and continue to tell great and impactful stories.”
“That the award came after I took a break from the platform shows the high level of respect for fairness and justice in not just the editorial process but also the internal workings of the newspaper,” said Mr Akinpelu, who now works for the BBC. “This is something I think all media organisations should learn from.”
Earlier in his remarks, Mr Akinbajo said the judging process was “very transparent and verifiable” noting that the “editors believe accountability should be done and must be seen to be done.”
Meanwhile, the award for the Story of the Year was jointly won by two reporters who had the highest scores for the overall stories of the months in 2021.
The joint winners were Ameh Ejekwonyilo and Kemi Busari. The duo shared the N200,000 prize that came with the Story of the Year award.
Mr Busari’s story on How Nigerian security officials arbitrarily and extra-judicially killed citizens while enforcing curfew during the partial lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the winning entries.
On the global stage, Mr Busari’s report was shortlisted for the 2021 Fetisov Journalism Awards.
Mr Busari, while receiving the award said he is “still trying to do some follow-up to see the victims of these extrajudicial killings get justice.”
He appreciated his editors and everyone who supported him while writing the story, including the sponsor, the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID).
Before becoming the editor of Dubawa, an independent fact-checking hub under the auspices of Premium Times’ sister organisation, CJID, Mr Busari, a multiple award-winning reporter, was the Senate correspondent for PREMIUM TIMES.
Meanwhile, the second winning entry was Mr Ejekwonyilo’s months-long report on How decrepit court facilities hamper justice delivery in Nigeria’s capital.
Being the first major recognition of his journalistic work, Mr Ejekwonyilo was “excited and overwhelmed” to have jointly won the award.
He saluted “the relentless effort of Ade Adesomoju, my immediate boss, and the PREMIUM TIMES’ excellent tradition of rewarding journalistic excellence.”
He added that the award “will spur me to tell more impactful stories that would engender accountability in Nigeria and the African continent.”
Mr Ejekwonyilo also dedicated “the award to my beloved mother, Rose-Ikponya Abah, whose enormous sacrifices saw me through the university, and my late kid sister, Ochanya Ogbanje, whose horrendous death at the hands of rapists in 2018, still grieves us all. I hope she gets justice soon.”
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