CHIKEZIE Omeje, a Senior Investigative Reporter with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), has emerged winner of the 2018 fact check award which was organised by Africa Check.
Omeje’s entry, a fact-check report on whether Nigeria actually recorded a decline in preschool enrolment, was adjudged as the best entry from the 150 entries that were received from more than 20 countries across Africa.
Eleven journalists had been shortlisted for the award, including reporters from Premium Times and TheCable.
“In general, there was some really good work,’ said the head of the jury for the awards, Franz Kruger, a professor. “We were particularly struck by the student entries, which were very strong. In some cases, they were well ahead of entries from professional journalists.”
The award was received on Omeje’s behalf by Cletus Ukpong, a reporter with Premium Times, as he could not make it to South Africa where the award ceremony held, despite having met all requirements to be granted a visa by the South African Embassy in Nigeria.
Entries to the awards are judged on the following four criteria: “The significance for wider society of the claim investigated, how the claim was tested against the available evidence, how well the piece presented the evidence for and against the claim, and the impact that the publication had on public debate on the topic.”
Omeje’s winning article was able to prove, using available evidence, that the claim by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that there was a reduction in the enrolment of preschool children in Nigeria in 2016, was false.
On the contrary, as Omeje’s clarified in his report, it is more likely that there has been a steady increase in enrolment since 2001.
The NBS pulled down the misleading data from its website after Omeje’s fact-check report was published.
Jason Norwood-Young, from South Africa, was named the runner-up for the award with his story on whether residents of Cape Town were conserving water or not.