Award-winning Nigerian journalist advocates human faces on insurgency victims

Malam Abubakar Ibrahim, a Nigerian journalist who the 2018 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling, has stressed the importance of putting human faces on victims of Boko Haram insurgency.

Ibrahim, whose exemplary reportage about victims of the Boko Haram terrorist group, earned him the coveted international award, stated this while speaking to a gathering of media leaders and supporters in New York City.

The News Editor for Daily Trust newspaper in Abuja said journalists had a responsibility to show the humanity of people they cover and not treat them as statistics or faceless entities.

Ibrahim, according to International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), followed the tortuous journeys of two women whose families were torn apart after Boko Haram attacked their villages.

His story, ‘All That Was Familiar’, was published in Granta magazine in May 2017, showing more than two million people from north eastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon and southern Niger have been internally displaced by Boko Haram.

“Journalism for me is identifying brave women and men like these from those numbers and sharing their stories with the world, to remind ourselves of our failings, the people we have failed and the lives they had and lost.

“It is our obligation to not only hold leadership accountable, but also to remind ourselves that we are accountable for the privilege of our humanity.

“It is clear that Michael Elliott felt this sense of responsibility as a journalist and acted on it.

“He also took this moral stand and went beyond the call of his duty to alter the human condition through his humanitarian gestures and championing storytelling as a tool for empowerment.

“It is for this reason that I am extremely delighted and genuinely honoured to stand before you tonight to receive this award which bears the name of this distinguished gentleman,” Ibrahim said.

The Nigerian journalist said he hoped the award “will inspire other African journalists to take ownership of our stories, the ones that matter to us the most and how these stories are told”.

The prestigious award is given by ICFJ in partnership with ONE and the Elliott family.

Ibrahim was the second annual recipient of the award, which honours Elliott’s commitment to use great storytelling as a tool for empowerment, while the inaugural winner was Kenyan health reporter Mercy Juma.

It was established in 2016 in honour of Michael Elliott, an outstanding editor and philanthropist whose life was a testament to the power of storytelling to bear witness to and improve the human condition.

Elliott died in July 2016 after serving as president and CEO of ONE, Bono’s foundation.

Previously, he was a top editor at three great news magazines – TIME, Newsweek and The Economist, and served as a member of the ICFJ Board of Directors for eight years. (NAN)

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