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ICIR funded story emerges winner at 2022 IOM media awards

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A story by Gbenga Salau that was funded by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) has emerged winner in the print media category of the 2022 Reporting Migration Competition, organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), held on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Abuja.

The IOM had taken to its Twitter handle on Thursday to announce the award ceremony.

“Today, 12 Nigerian journalists received awards in a ceremony held in Abuja for the Reporting Migration Competition for stories and reports published on four categories, which are radio, television, online and print,” the handle read.

The media awards ceremony is a way of the organization rewarding the efforts of journalists for their quality reporting in migration issues around the globe.

The story, ‘How laxity at border posts across West Africa undermines enforcement of COVID-19 protocols’, is an investigative story which took the author through the borders of Nigeria and Ghana at a time when land borders were closed in Nigeria.

Speaking with The ICIR in an interview, Salau said his motive behind the story was principally to expose the illegality at the border posts and how the passengers were able to illegally navigate their way through.

He added that the happenings in his community were the major drive he got to take up the story.

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He explained, “The idea of the story came from my community. Where I stayed in Lagos was close to a jetty, and any time I had reason to pass through the area where the jetty was located, especially in the morning, I used to see a large crowd of people wanting to board boats. So, one of the days, I felt I should ask where exactly they were heading to because the passengers often had big traveling bags with them. I was told majority of the passengers were heading to Ghana. And the route became an option because of the border closure.”

Narrating his experience in the course of getting the story done, Salau said that there were challenges that almost made him give up on the report, but he was re-motivated to keep at it.

“In doing the story, it was not an easy one, I almost lost the chance of doing it. After picking a boat at the jetty heading to Pansi en route Ghana at the second checkpoint manned by Navy officers, all the male passengers with no international passport were asked to disembark. We were threatened that we would not be allowed to continue the journey. It was later I learnt it was because the transport company did not pay ahead to allow us free movement, but that was eventually resolved.

“From that point there was no major setback till I got to Ghana,” he said.

He concluded by showing his appreciation to The ICIR for the support and platform it afforded him in delivering such an impact-making story.

“I must thank TheICIR for supporting me to report the story; without the support there was no way I could have done the report. I thank God for the appreciation by the organizers of the award, and it is a motivation to do more on my part,” he said.

Author profile

Omolola Pedro is a Reporter/ Fact-Checker at The International Centre for Investigative Reporting. She believes in a society that is fair to all. She has deep interest in Gender Equality, Social Justice, and protection of human rights.

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You can reach out to her via mail opedro@icirnigeria.org, Twitter:@pedro_omolola

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