An investigative journalist with HumAngle Media in, Muhammed Akinyemi, has emerged as West Africa’s Journalist of the Year.
According to a citation in nfwa.org, “His story on the recurrent soot problems in the southern Nigeria province, of River State, wooed the grand jury of the West Africa Media Excellence and Awards to crown him over 16 other journalists shortlisted for the ultimate prize”.
Employing a scientific approach to the story, including air quality tests, the investigative report detailed how illegal oil refining is causing irreversible damage to the environment, the people, and the air in Port Harcourt. While the government said it had dismantled illegal refining sites, a visit to different refining sites showed otherwise.
According to the story: “Since 2015, Rivers State has suffered a recurrence of soot covering its air and lungs. While soot may be caused by illegal refining using crude tools, there’s evidence that legal and proper refining contributes too. But Mr Ese [an air quality expert] confirms that the refineries in Port Harcourt and across the state are not functioning. “They are not refining any product,” he says. “[Most of the] black soot is caused by illegal human activities.”’
Mr Akinyemi was also adjudged the best story in the Environmental Reporting category.
The award was presented by Human Rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana.