In the seventh iteration of the West African Media Excellence Awards (WAMECA), Muhammed Akinyemi, a journalist at HumAngle Nigeria, has emerged as the top journalist of the year in West Africa.
Mr. Akinyemi, who was among the 17 shortlisted journalists for the regional awards, was bestowed with the overall best journalist title at a glamorous award ceremony held in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday night.
In the previous edition of WAMECA held in 2022, the coveted award was won by Tessy Igomu, the head of investigations at Punch Newspapers in Nigeria.
According to the organizers of the awards, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a total of 855 entries were submitted by journalists from 15 West African countries for the latest 2023 edition.
Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director of MFWA, disclosed that the 825 entries went through a filtration process, resulting in a selection of 100 submissions. Subsequently, a three-member jury chose the 17 finalists, finally narrowing it down to six winners across six categories. Each of the finalists is considered a winner in their own right.
During the vibrant award ceremony on Saturday, the winners from the six categories were unveiled and celebrated.
Mr Akinyemi claimed victory in the Environmental Reporting category with his engaging story titled “All Die Na Die: At the Heart of Nigeria’s Soot Problem.” Published in May 2022, his story shed light on the detrimental environmental pollution caused by illegal oil activities in Port-Harcourt, a region in Rivers State, Nigeria’s south-south area.
His article, which secured the Environmental Reporting category with a cash reward of $500, also earned him the esteemed West African Journalist award along with a cash prize of $2000.
The winners of the other categories were also recognized: Gbenga Salau from Guardian Newspaper Nigeria secured the Business Reporting prize; Emmanuel Debrah from Multimedia Group Limited Ghana clinched the ICT Reporting category; Emmanuel Ayamga from Pulse Ghana emerged victorious in the Migration Reporting prize; Komla Adom from TV3 Ghana was honoured with the Human Rights category prize; and Francisca Enchill from Joy News Ghana was awarded for her outstanding Investigative Reporting.