A Nigerian investigative journalist, Alfred Olufemi, has been announced winner of the 2023 African Prize for Investigative Journalism (PAJI).
Olufemi, was presented the award during a ceremony held in Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday.
Launched in 2021, PAJI was created to promote investigative journalism endeavours on the African continent. The 2023 edition of PAJI is organised by Media & Democracy (M&D) in collaboration with the Senegalese Centre d’Études des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI).
Olufemi was named the winner of the Print category and presented with the golden award. Other journalists include Gambia’s Mustapha Dabou and Kenya’s Sam Munia, who won the web and television categories respectively.
Olufemi’s entry is an investigation into the contamination of a flowing river linking several local communities in Oyo state.
The story, which was published in Punch Newspaper last year, detailed how the contamination affected the ecosystem in communities that were miles away from the scene where a chemical was spilled.
After the report was published, the owners of the chemical reached out to the farmers who suffered losses and the police announced that it will reopen investigations into the matter.
Speaking on Olufemi’s entry, one of the members of the jury and a Director of RSF’s West Africa office, Sadibou Marong, said Olufemi was thorough in his investigation.
“He provided an evidence-based report. It was an extraordinary story because of the efforts put in by the journalist,” he said.
Another member of the jury, Radio France Internationale (RFI) editor-in-chief, Laurent Correau, said the hour made a big story out of what many would have only reported as a news item.
“That’s fantastic and really incredible,” he commented.
Olufemi, in his acceptance speech, appreciated the organisers for recognising the works of investigative journalists on the continent. He noted that the award comes at a time he is being victimised for being critical of some powerful officials in Nigeria.
“This, personally, is an encouragement and inspiration to do more and be better,” he said.