Sowore: Osinbajo states position on Wole Soyinka Centre’s postponement of his award

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has cleared the air over the postponement of the 2019 Integrity Specialty of the Anti-corruption Defender Award to be concerned on him by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).

The WSCIJ, had, in a release signed by its Executive Director/CEO, Motunrayo Alaka, said VP Osinbajo “himself shares this awareness and the inappropriateness of the award at this point.”

However, the vice president in a letter to the centre dated 8th of December, 2019, said his engagement in Abu Dhabi where he will be speaking at an international meeting under the auspices of the government of the UAE coincides with the Award and as such won’t be available at the Awards.

Osinbajo also said it will be “insensitive and “inappropriate to receive the award on the heels of the rearrest of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoleye Sowore, on Friday, 6th of December.

Recall that the Centre on Monday, said the Award for Osinbajo, was suspended to “align with protests against the repression of freedom of speech in recent times especially the incident between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Omoleye Sowore, Publisher of Sahara Reporters, on Friday 6 December.”

The centre also claimed the decision to suspend the award was reached by both parties.

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However, probably not pleased with the reasons cited by the centre, the presidency on Monday evening via its Twitter handle, @NGRPresident, released the details of the letter sent to the centre.

The letter titled “For the Records: VP Osinbajo’s Letter Yesterday, December 8, 2019 to Organisers of the 2019 Anti-Corruption Defender Award” reads: “I am extremely grateful for the recognition and award of the “Integrity Specialty of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism’s Anti-corruption Defender Award of 2019” to me.

“The award, I note, is for our Justice reform efforts in Lagos State. I had accepted the award with pride on behalf of the excellent Justice Sector team we had.

“However, two reasons explain my absence. First is that I am currently in Abu Dhabi for an international meeting under the auspices of the government of the UAE where I am the keynote speaker.

“Second, in view of the developments on Friday in the Sowore case, I think it would be insensitive and inappropriate to attend the ceremony.

“Please accept my heartfelt apologies and extend the same to the other members of the organizing team. God bless you.”

Tribune Online recalls that Osinbajo, Amnesty International and veteran photojournalist, Sunmi Smart-Cole, were initially nominated to receive honorary awards at the 14th edition of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting (WSAIR) scheduled to hold today.


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