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Dapo Olorunyomi, the publisher/editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Premium Times/Photo: Wikipedia

Nigerian journalist bags 2020 International Press Freedom Award

Dapo Olorunyomi, the publisher/editor-in-chief of the Nigerian online newspaper Premium Times, has been honoured with the 2020 International Press Freedom Award by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Olorunyomi was awarded for dedicating his life to holding the powerful to account and his “fierce advocacy” for press freedom.

Three other exemplary journalists – Shahidul Alam (Bangladesh), Mohammad Mosaed (Iran) and Svetlana Prokopyeva (Russia) – have also been honoured with the prestigious award.

“All four have been arrested or faced criminal prosecution in reprisal for their reporting,” CPJ said in a press statement. “Like brave and committed journalists everywhere, CPJ’s honourees set out to report the news without fear or favour for the benefit of their communities, their country, and the world,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director.

Olorunyomi (62), who was policy director and chief of staff to the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Nuhu Ribadu, was declared wanted by the Abacha administration in 1995 on account of his work with The News magazine and was forced into exile in the United States. His wife, Ladi, a journalist, women’s right activist, was detained for 68 days without charges.

Olorunyomi “during his decades-long career as a journalist has been a fierce defender of press freedom in Nigeria despite repeated government harassment,” CPJ said. More recently he was arrested alongside a colleague in 2017 when police raided the Premium Times’ office on allegations of defamation.

The organisation will also honour lawyer Amal Clooney with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. “Journalists in trouble have no better champion than Amal Clooney, which is why we are so delighted to honour her with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. A talented barrister, gifted negotiator, and powerful speaker, Clooney works tirelessly to free journalists unjustly targeted by despotic leaders using increasingly punitive laws to stifle reporting,” said Kathleen Carroll, CPJ board chair.

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The winners will be honoured on 9 November at a ceremony, to be chaired this year by Patrick Gaspard, President of Open Society Foundations.

“Due to health and safety restrictions related to COVID-19, this year’s gala will be virtual, with video profiles, compelling press freedom stories, award presentations, and acceptance speeches streamed online and shared around the world,” the CPJ said.

Sola Jolaoso

For more on the award, click HERE

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