Professor Ropo Sekoni, the WSCIJ Board Chair opened the meeting. He spoke to the importance of investigative journalism in Nigeria, stressing the criticality of support for existing initiatives.
In her speech, Ms. Ibim Semenitari, Rivers State Commissioner for Information, who represented the Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon Rotimi Ameachi mentioned that the Rivers State government chose to support the award in recognition of its contribution to investigative journalism in the country. According to her, “if the people will benefit from democracy then the media must be on the side of the people and continue to act as watchdog to the government.”
Representing the British High Commissioner Dr. Andrew Pacock, Mr Robert Fitzpatrick, the Commission’s Political and Press Officer, said the media will forever play a role in holding the powerful to account be it in government or in business. He emphasised that the British High Commission was pleased to be associated with the Centre and its award programme through its support of the online category.
Chairman of the 2013 WSAIR Judges’ Board and Dean of the School of Journalism, Lagos State University, Professor Lai Oso, presented the judges’ observations on the entries for 2013. He highlighted the failings of many entries received and called on the media to do better investigative reporting even as he charged the Centre to embark on intensive training programmes.
The Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence was presented to veteran journalist, Amma Ogan. In her acceptance comment, she expressed her pleasure at the honour of being recognised and appreciated by the Centre. Solumfeechi, Dr Chidi Odinkalu’s ten year old daughter who received the Anti-Corruption Defender Award presented by Prof Wole Soyinka on behalf of the human rights advocate, also read his acceptance speech to the audience.
The Virginity Test, a 13-series work by Temitayo Famutimi of Punch Newspaper emerged winner in the Print category while Segun Elijah was runner-up in the same category with his entry titled The Poachers Called Keepers published in National Standard Magazine.
The winners received an award plaque, a backup computer hard drive and a cash prize of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) each. The runners-up were given a cash prize of N50, 000 (Fifty Thousand Naira Only) and a backup computer hard drive each. The overall winners also took home framed plaques and an additional N50, 000. All finalists received a commendation certificate.
Prof Wole Soyinka in his keynote address urged the Centre and its supporters to keep up the fight. He however prayed for the grace for continuation in the fight against corruption. According to him, the menace of corruption and impunity always fight back. After him, Ms. Toyin Akinniyi, a programme officer with the Centre gave the vote of thanks.
The award presentation event which had over three hundred people in attendance featured media practitioners, lawyers, teachers and students of journalism; leaders of the civil society, political officers, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives of corporate institutions.
Full citations of the winning works are available on the Centre’s website www.wscij.org
ABOUT THE AWARD
The Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting was first held in October 2005 to encourage the development of an investigative tradition in the Nigerian media through rigorous scrutiny of human rights violations, regulatory failures and corruption in the public and corporate sectors of the nation’s life. It has so far rewarded 65 finalists out of which there are 36 ‘Soyinka Laureates’ and 29 runners-up. It has also honoured 4 investigative journalists of the year and 12 honorary awards recipients.
ABOUT THE CENTRE
The WOLE SOYINKA CENTRE FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM (WSCIJ) is a non-governmental organisation with a vision to stimulate the emergence of a socially just community defined by the ethics of inclusion, transparency and accountability through support to journalists. Initially known as the Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Award (WSIRA), the change in name became necessary in 2008 to reflect the intentions of the coordinators to embrace a more robust line of activities that have greater capacity for engendering the right values of investigative journalism in the Nigerian media. The Centre is named after Professor Wole Soyinka in recognition of his life-long work in support of the freedom of expression, freedom to hold opinion, and freedom to impart them without fear or favour and without hindrance or interference.
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