BY EDMOND ODOK – Worried by rising cases of fake news and its devastating effects in the polity, Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), says Nigerian journalists must shun any attraction of peddling rumours to make good their quest to successfully combat injustice within the system.
He said injustice cannot be fought on the altar of rumour peddling if nation is to achieve much-desired progress in its march towards sustainable growth and development.
The Senior lawyer said; “I will urge us all, particularly journalists, not to peddle rumours in their quest to fight injustice.”
Speaking at the 14th Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting in Ikeja, Lagos, Falana said as major stakeholders, media practitioners are constitutionally bound to deploy their professional skills and goodwill towards nation building at all times.
“We must ensure we fight injustice until it is over in our country”, the human rights activist charged, even as he congratulated the awardees and urged them to keep up the good works.
The award was organised by Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) to celebrate journalists for their great works and risk taking in defence of Nigeria’s democracy.
On the night, various categories of Journalism and Lifetime Awards were presented to journalists who excelled in investigative reports in different fields.
The list of award winners include: Isine Ibang of The Next Edition Newspaper who won the Investigative Reporter in the online category.
He also won award of the 2019 WSCIJ Nigerian Investigative Reporter of the year with his reports on “How Bribe Taking Security Operatives Gangs Force Nigerians To Pay Dearly for Food.”
Runners up in the online category are Damilola Banjo of Sahara Reporters and Chikezie Omeje of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
The Photo category had Odutayo Odusanya of the Punch Newspaper as winner with Ayodele Adeniran of The Guardian Newspaper, Saheed Olugbon, Punch Newspaper coming second and third respectively.
For the Editorial Cartoon category, Mr Albert Ihams of The Sun Newspaper won with his reports on N13.5 million Sitting Allowance for Senators while Mary Abayomi-Fatile of FRCN won the Radio category for her investigative report on “Alleged Police Extra-Judicial Killing of Madam Basirat Akinmushire.”
Samuel-Wemimo Bukola and Sharon Ijasan, both of Television Continental (TVC) won in the Television category for their reports on “Depression and Suicide” and “Child Labour, Child Rights, Labour Laws Violated by Chinese Company” respectively.
The print category award went to Samson Folarin of Punch Newspaper with his reports on; “Certificate, Plagiarism Scandal rocks Nnamdi Azikwe University”. This is just as Oladimeji Ramon of the Punch Newspaper and Chinwe Agbeze of Sun Newspaper emerged as runners up
Also honoured by WSCIJ wa, a veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole and the Amnesty International Nigeria with a Lifetime awards for journalistic excellence in their fight against human rights violations and oppressive laws.
They were also recognised for their efforts in defending freedom of expression in Nigeria.
In his remarks at the event, WSCIJ board Chairman, Professor Ropo Sekoni, praised all the finalists and honourary award recipients for a great work done.
He appealed to citizens across class, faith and nationality on the need to remain steadfast in sustaining the democracy attained in the country, at great sacrifice in 1999.
“Our culturally diverse country needs democracy more than most people can imagine. Democracy requires that political leaders and followers show respect for and tolerance of different perspectives, values for without which electoral democracy may not achieve its most important goal,” Sekoni said
The Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting is an annual event with its maiden edition held in October 2005. The Award holds annually on December 9, which is the World Anti-Corruption Day and eve of the Human Rights Day.
It aims at acknowledging best practices in investigative journalism and its significance for attaining good governance, social justice and accountability. – With agency reports