ICIR funded report shortlisted for African investigative journalism award

A REPORT funded and published by The International centre for investigative reporting (ICIR) has been shortlisted for the 2023 edition of African Prize For Investigative Journalism (PAJI) award.

The report, ‘Abandoned health projects litter Sokoto despite multi-million naira investment’ by Abdulrasheed Hammad, a journalist who freelanced with The ICIR, was shortlisted in the online investigation category.

The African Prize for Investigative Journalism (PAJI) is an annual award created in 2021, honours the productions of journalists who had shown courage and determination in their work and also adhered to higher journalistic standards and deontological principles.

The 2023 edition of APIJ/PAJI is promoted and co-organised by M&D and the Centre d’Études des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) from the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Sénégal.

The prizes that will be awarded at the event are intended to encourage investigative journalism in Africa and to highlight the quality of work carried out by a large number of African media professionals.

The ICIR-funded investigation exposed how Sokoto healthcare system remains in a deplorable state despite multi-million naira investments in health facilities. It also detailed how the Public Procurement Act was repeatedly violated in awarding public projects.

The reporter, Abdulrasheed Hammad went to four different LGAs to document the state of healthcare facilities despite the release of multimillion naira for the projects.

The healthcare centres visited are: Kware General hospital, Kware LGA, General Hospital Salami, Gwadabawa LGA, Abandoned healthcare facility in Achida and Sokoto State Specialist Hospital.

Speaking with The ICIR on the development, Hammad expressed his happiness for making the shortlisted list, stating that it’s a testament to the quality of investigative reports The ICIR is producing.

“I am so excited for being among the top three winners of this Africa Prize for Investigative Journalism (PAJI) Award. It is a great opportunity that my investigative story was rated in the top three in the whole of Africa. This is a testament to the quality and impactful investigative stories that ICIR is producing. 

“When I applied for the award, I didn’t expect that I would be shortlisted since it is an international award, but I was lucky to be shortlisted. This is the first international award I would be shortlisted for as an investigative journalist and I believe this would serve as an encouragement for me to do more impactful stories.”

When asked about the challenges faced during the course of the investigation, he explained that he received several threats from contractors and was offered a bribe to drop the story.



    “I faced a lot of challenges while executing the story because I was afraid of physical attacks during the process of my investigation. While doing the story, I received threats from the contractors. Some contractors threatened to carry me with DSS, one contractor even rained curses on me and some contractors threatened me with court cases but I didn’t relent since my plan was to make sure I balance everything in my report,” he said.

    Hammad also faced challenges in getting access to some important information that would further enrich his story as Freedom of Information (FOI) requests written to the concerned authorities were not responded to. 

    He, therefore, applauded The ICIR team for financial and mentorship support during the project.

    “I really appreciate The ICIR team for giving me an opportunity to freelance with the platform. Special thanks to Mr Dayo Aiyetan, the Executive Director of ICIR, Mr Ajibola Amzat, former Managing editor of ICIR and Africa editor for CCIJ and Ms Bamas Victoria, the ICIR editor for the support in executing the story. I appreciate my mentor on the OCR project, Mrs Lami Sadiq for the support in bringing out the best in my story,” he added.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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