‘Fisayo Soyombo, Founder/Editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), is on the three-man shortlist for the 2021 edition of One World Media’s International Journalist of the Year award.
Joining Soyombo on the shortlist from an initial 10-man longlist announced in April are Drew Ambrose of Al Jazeera English and Suadad al-Salhy of Middle East Eye.
It is the second time in a row Soyombo has been on the OWM shortlist, having been long-listed for the award in 2020 before going on to earn a place on the three-man shortlist. The award eventually went to BBC’s John Sudworth.
His place on this year’s shortlist was for ‘Portraits of Blood’, his three-part series on the massacre of #EndSARS protesters by Nigerian soldiers on October 20, 2020.
The latest honour in Soyombo’s highly decorated media career comes three months after he won the second prize in the Fetisov Journalism Award, described by organisers as “the most lucrative journalism award in history”.
Soyombo won the award for his undercover investigation on Nigeria’s criminal justice system funded by TheCable and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
Back in 2019 as a freelance journalist, he had spent two weeks in detention — five days in a police cell and eight as an inmate in Ikoyi Prison — to track corruption in Nigeria’s criminal justice system, beginning from the moment of arrest by the Police to the point of release from prison.
To experience the workings of the system in its raw state, he adopted the pseudonym Ojo Olajumoke and feigned an offence for which he was arrested and detained in police custody, arraigned in court and eventually remanded in prison.
Two months earlier, in December 2020, Soyombo had also won the Local Reporter category of the 2020 Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism.
Before the victory, it was the third time in six years, the others being 2014 and 2016, that he had been short-listed for the Kurt Schork awards, which recognise excellence in courageous reporting of conflict, corruption, human rights transgressions and other related issues.
In 2020 alone, Soyombo either won or was short-listed for the Fetisov Journalism Awards (Outstanding Investigation category), the West Africa Media Excellence Award (Investigative Reporting category), the WJP Anthony Lewis Prize for Exceptional Rule of Law Journalism, the One World Media Awards (International Journalist of the Year category) and the People Journalism Prize for Africa (PJPA).
A three-time winner of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting, Soyombo is a former Editor of TheCable, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and SaharaReporters.
He founded FIJ in late 2020 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation that combats injustice, holds power to account and speaks for the voiceless, seeking to uncover the truth by bypassing officialdom and neutralizing propaganda. The outfit started publishing on January 20, 2021.
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