IOM Rewards 12 Nigerian Journalists For Outstanding Migration Reporting

Richard Ginika Izuora

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Nigeria has rewarded 12 journalists for their quality reporting in migration issues.

The award took place in Abuja, during a ceremony that concluded the Nigerian edition of the Reporting Migration Competition, launched in several West and Central African countries.

The event was organised during the week leading up to the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (30/07), marking the importance of quality journalism in reporting migration issues.

The award ceremony was the outcome of a process that began on 7 April, with the launch of the call for applications.

Nigerian journalists working in local and international media had a month to submit entries on irregular migration, return and reintegration and migrant protection.

Fifty six submissions were received and assessed based on rigorous evaluation criteria by a jury comprising academia, experienced journalists, the European Union Delegation in Nigeria and media experts from IOM. 12 journalists were awarded for stories and reports published on in four categories, including radio, television, online and print.

In the online category, Yusuf Akinpelu (BBC Africa) won the first prize, followed by Alexander Okere (Punch) and Tunde Omolehin (AsheNews).

In the print category, the first prize was awarded to Gbenga Salau (The Guardian), the second prize went to Alfred Olufemi (Punch), and Innocent Duru (The Nation) received the third prize.

In the radio category, Zainab Oyiza Sanni (Agidigbo FM) received the first prize, followed by Martha Okere (92.3 Nigeria Info FM) and Chinedu Ekeja (KU FM).

In the television category, Mojisola Matanmi (TV360 Nigeria), Sam Olukoya (Inter Press Service) and Funmi Unuajefe (Plus TV Africa) won the three prizes.

Media have an influential role in shaping public opinion about migration as Nigeria continues to be a country of origin, transit, and destination of migrants. Nonetheless, fake news, misinformation and stigmatisation have been witnessed before and during the pandemic, making the role of evidence-based journalism even more essential.

“The relevance of media in all aspects of human endeavour cannot be overemphasised.

More so in the area of better migration management. Media engagement is imperative given the pressing need to promote safe and regular migration as well as discourage irregular migration,” noted Prestage Murima, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission a.i.

The award ceremony allowed the media to draw attention to the importance of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), particularly when reporting stories of vulnerable migrants with mental health needs. Migrants can be exposed to various stress factors which affect their mental health and well-being before and during their migratory journey, settlement and reintegration. “The mental health needs of migrants should be addressed by organising inclusive and accessible promotion and prevention programmes, and reporting positive stories of strength and resilience”, said Narulita Ayu, Project Officer, MHPSS.

The Reporting Migration Competition was organised under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration to foster quality reporting on the reintegration and protection of migrants. This initiative is based on a “solutions journalism” approach, which identifies and responds to key social issues.

In addition to the certificates, 12 cash prizes amounting to USD 6,000 were awarded to the winners.

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