NEXT shone like a million stars on Tuesday night as one of its editors and two of its reporters scooped two of the three awards on offer at the FAIR (Forum for African Investigative Reporters) African Investigative Journalism Awards in Johannesburg, South Africa.
There was thunderous applause at the Moyo Zoo Lake Park venue of the ceremony as FAIR’s chairman, Gerard Guedegbe, declared reporters Peter Nkanga and Idris Akinbajo as African Investigative Reporters of the Year for their joint work, entitled “Last Minutes Oil Deal that Cost Nigeria Dear” published in the 12 June edition of NEXT on Sunday.
The report is one of the six-part groundbreaking series which catalogued a courageous journey into our heart of darkness, the oil industry, as we investigate brazen attempts by our senior officials, including petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to corner the oil industry for themselves, openly demanding bribes, and using cronies and fronts to grab oil blocs in secretive deals.
President Goodluck Jonathan ignored the weighty allegations, and proceeded to reappoint Mrs Alison-Madueke to his cabinet. The Senate also failed to do its job, ratifying her appointment without lifting a finger
The award was received on behalf of the reporters by their editor, Musikilu Mojeed, who was in Johannesburg to speak at the African Investigative Journalism Conference, organized by FAIR and the University of Witwatersrand. But before he could make it back to his seat, he too was announced as winner of the Editor’s Courage Award.
A journalist with the Kenya Standard newspaper won the second prize in the investigative reporting category for his story on police killings in his country.
In adjudging Messrs.’ Nkanga and Akinbajo’s entry the most outstanding, the judges described the report as an exceptional piece of journalism that should have sent Mrs. Alison-Maduekwe to jail.
“An excellent, thorough investigation into an important issue,” the judges said of the report. “In most countries, this article would cost the minister her job, if not her freedom. Nigeria’s Next newspaper and website did a great job here.”