By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The national body of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) recently bestowed on DailyTrust correspondent, Eyo Charles the Torch Bearer of Press Freedom Award.
The award is usually given to editors, reporters, media practitioners who faced persecution, humiliation, attacks, detention, imprisonment, physical injury or suffered death in the course of performing their professional duties.
And, Mr. Charles was drawn into the arena after a video emerged of former communication’s minister during the President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Femi Fani-Kayode verbally assaulting him after he asked the politician who was financing his trips round the country where he was visiting Governors and inspecting their projects.
The incident occured at Governor Ben Ayade’s private hotel at the State housing estate in Calabar on Thursday, August 20, 2020. But, the public will only know about it days later when Mr. Fani-Kayode shared the video on his verified Facebook page saying he responded to a “rude journalist.”
Media practitioners across the world rallied round Mr. Charles and Fani-Kayode was forced to apologize and it thwarted further tours.
The award was given to him by the national chairman of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo during a ceremony to mark the 2021 edition of the World Press Freedom Day held at Sheraton Hotel Abuja celebrated annually on May 3rd. The ceremony was however, deferred to May 5th.
Mr. Charles is one of 11 that have received that category of award.
The other 10 journalists that also received the Torch Bearers of Press Freedom Awards were Mary Ekere who was unduly arrested, detained and harassed on 16 September 2019 by men of Akwa Ibom Sanitation and Waste Management Agency in the course of covering their operation at the University of Uyo gate.
Henry Umoru, assistant political editor of the Vanguard who was threatened and manhandled by political thugs in Rivers State for asking a governorship candidate a question.
Emelda Joy Odor of Nagarta Radio Abuja, King Solomon Ekhalyeme of Ovation Media, photojournalist Kehinde Shonolla of Vanguard, Adepoju Tobi, Daniel Eniola of the Guardian, photojournalist Wale Amoo of BusinessDay, photojournalist Isaac Ayydele of The Nation, and Prince Bamigbala Ademola, publisher of Scope News magazine.
Two who were given posthumous awards were Precious Owolabi of Channels TV and Alex Ogbu of Regent African Times.
The 2020 edition did not hold and Mr. Isiguzo explained that it was due to the COVID-19 pandemic which forced restrictions of movement and large gatherings.
“Many Journalists in Nigeria have faced harassment, threat, physical injury, imprisonment, and even death in the discharge of their legitimate duties. It is the courage and sacrifice of these Journalists that we are celebrating by organising the third and fourth editions of the 2020/2021 NUJ Press Freedom Awards,” Isiguzo said, adding that: “Press freedom is an indispensable pillar in the architecture of any democracy.”
Other awardees include Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, whom alongside Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State received Distinguished Friends of the Media Awards. Chairman of the occasion, Senator Barau I. Jibrin and two others got Defender of Press Freedom Awards.
Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Yakubu Inn Mohammed, director general of the Nigerian Television Authority and Tony Akiotu, group managing director of Daar Communications, the owners of African Independent Television.
The event was attended by highly placed dignitaries including the political class and business leaders as well as an array of media practitioners.
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