SOURCE- Sun Newspaper
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) has postponed the planned presentation of an award to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo after the news generated protests on social media. Osinbajo was slated to be presented with an Integrity award as part of the 2019 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting scheduled to hold on Monday, December 9 in Lagos.
Executive Director/CEO of the Centre, Motunrayo Alaka, in a statement on Monday announcing the postponement, said the “Vice President himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point.”
She explained that the postponement was in response to the protest against what she called, “the repression of freedom of speech” by the present administration, citing the case of the convener of the #RevolutionNow movement and Sahara Reporters’ Publisher Omoyele Sowore.
“The postponement was decided on, to align with protests against the repression of #FreedomOfSpeech in recent times, especially the incidence between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Omoyele Sowore Publisher of SaharaReporters, on Friday 6 December.
“The Vice President ProfOsinbajo himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point,” the statement read.
Responding to the development, the Vice President, through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, issued a statement to the event organisers, stating:
“I am extremely grateful for the recognition and award of the “Integrity Specialty of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Anti-corruption Defender Award of 2019” to me.
“The award, I note, is for our Justice reform efforts in Lagos State. I had accepted the award with pride on behalf of the excellent Justice Sector team we had.
“However, two reasons explain my absence. First is that I am currently in Abu Dhabi for an international meeting under the auspices of the government of the UAE where I am the keynote speaker.
“Second, in view of the developments on Friday in the Sowore case, I think it would be insensitive and inappropriate to attend the ceremony.
“Please accept my heartfelt apologies and extend the same to the other members of the organizing team. God bless you.”
The WSCIJ award seeks to honour journalism works with focus on public and corporate corruption, human rights abuses, or failure of regulatory agencies. The presentation usually holds every December 9, on the World Anti-Corruption Day and eve of the World Human Rights Day, to highlight the importance of investigative reporting as a tool for accountability, good governance and social justice in a democracy.
For this edition, 13 journalists from print, online, television, radio, photo, and editorial cartoon categories will be celebrated. Veteran photojournalist Sunmi Smart-Cole and Amnesty International Nigeria will also be presented with the honorary Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence and the Anti-Corruption Defender Award (Human Rights Specialty), respectively.