Mr. Abasifreke Effiong, Managing Editor, The Dune Newspaper.

By Uduak Ibok, Uyo.

The Managing Editor of The Dune newspaper, Mr. Abasifreke Effiong and Mr. Ekemini Simon, have won the maiden edition of the Ray Ekpu award for investigative journalism.

Mr. Simon works for an Akwa Ibom state based newspaper – The Mail.

Messrs Effiong and Simon were announced joint winner of the award on Friday 10th December at the annual award and dinner organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom state council to mark the end of the 2021 press week.

The award has a prize money of N500,000, and a laptop each to the winners.

The award was instituted by Inoyo Toro Foundation, a non-profit organisation working to promote quality education in Akwa Ibom state, to honour Mr. Ray Ekpu, a top-brass journalist and founding member of the famed Newswatch magazine from Akwa Ibom state.

Seventeen entries from print media were received for the award, said Nsikak Essien, a former editor of the defunct Concord newspaper, who headed the screening committee.

Messrs Effiong and Simon had written a-4 part story which exposed questionable expenditures to the tune of N10 billion in the 2019 financial report and audited statements of the State.

The Dune Editor wins Ray Ekpu award for investigative journalism Senator Ken Nnamani, decorating Mr. Ekemini Simon, one of the winners of the Ray Ekpu Award for Investigative Journalism while Mr. Abasifreke Effiong watches, at an award and dinner night marking the end of the 2021 press week of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State council.

The report revealed how the State government posted that it bought 15 units of Prado Jeep TXL at the cost N4.864 billion, representing N324.3 million per unit cost at a time the car cost about N45 million.

It also exposed how the State government spent N120 million on the production of ‘security encoded ID card’ for intending pilgrims. However, the reporters found out from Christian pilgrims and the State Pilgrims Management Board that no ID card was produced for pilgrims that year.

The report by Messrs Effiong and Simon had caused the Akwa Ibom state government to withdraw her 2019 financial reports and audited account and publish a new one.

It report of the investigation agitated State-wide discussions, petitions by citizen groups, and rose an unusual interest in the state government’s expenditure and caused the House of Assembly to set up a committee to review the 2019 audited statements which it had passed four months earlier.

The investigation was funded by MacArthur Foundation through ICIR and supported by Policy Alert.

The award-winning reports were published by The Dune and The Mail newspapers and the ICIR between November and December 2020.

Prizes for the award were presented to the winners by the Chairman of 2021 press week dinner, Senator Ken Nnamani.

Mr. Effiong also received a prize of N100,000 for winning the data journalism award sponsored by Policy Alert.

Other journalists who won awards in other categories were Harrison Essien, judiciary reporter of the year; Priscilla Christopher, community reporter of the year; Charity James, environment reporter of the year; EnwongAbasi Ituen, Sports reporter of the year; and Uduak Akai, features writer of the year.

Abigail Isaac won the legislative reporter of the year and Nsikak Essien won the information officer of the year.

Ima Dem of the Inspiration FM won the broadcast reporter of the rear, while Idongesit Ashameri of Independent newspapers won the print reporter of the year.

Passion FM, Uyo, won the radio station of the year, while The Mail won the newspaper of the year.


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