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Sunday Punch’s Motunrayo Joel wins Academy of Science media award

Sunday Punch’s Motunrayo Joel wins Academy of Science media award
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Sunday Punch’s Motunrayo Joel has emerged winner of the 2015 the Nigerian Academy of Science Media Prize with her winning entry, “Ovum trading: Inside Nigeria’s multi-million naira human egg business:
The Academy described the entry as the first expose of its end.
Arukaino Umukoro also of Sunday Punch was the first runner-up in the award.
Editor of Sunday Punch, Toyosi Ogunseye in a facebook post said she was incredibly proud of her two staff.

The Punch reports that Joel’s winning entry, published in SUNDAY PUNCH on August 9, 2015 shed light on the nation’s secret multi-million naira ovum-trade industry.

The two-part story, which took two months to prepare, also chronicled Joel’s visit to three fertility clinics in Lagos where she posed as a young lady willing to sell her eggs for money.

While presenting the award, the chairman of the panel of judges, Prof. Andrew Nok, commended the story as the ‘first expose’ on the subject of ovum trading in Nigeria.

Nok noted that Joel went the extra mile to document what egg sellers went through.

He said, “Her piece was the first investigative article on the human egg trade in Nigeria, which showed the desperation of girls to sell their eggs and the health implications. She visited three fertility clinics, proposed selling her eggs to them and became friends with some of the egg traders. She took pictures of herself conducting the various tests she underwent to prepare her to donate her eggs.”

Receiving the award, Joel said, “I am so excited and thankful to God. I am also grateful to my editor for believing in me.”

A senior correspondent with SUNDAY PUNCH, Arukaino Umukoro, was also named the 2015 runner-up in the print category for his story, ‘Kids of Fortune: How six-year-olds dare lead poisoning in Nigeria’s gold mines’. The story was published in SUNDAY PUNCH on June 21, 2015.

Umukoro’s piece focused on the plight of kid miners and children who died of lead poisoning in rural communities in Niger State, as well as the environmental and health effects on the residents of the affected communities.

The prestigious prize is the country’s foremost science journalism prize and is in its sixth year.

The Editor, SUNDAY PUNCH, Miss Toyosi Ogunseye; Bukola Adebayo and Folashade Adebayo – both of The PUNCH – won the award in 2012, 2013, 2014. Kunle Falayi of Saturday PUNCH was named the 2014 runner-up in the print category.

A hard-working reporter with about five years experience in journalism covering health, education and development issues, Joel studied Journalism at the Midrand Graduate Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa, where she graduated with a distinction. She was named the runner-up at the 2015 edition of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism award. She was also shortlisted among the 12 journalists from eight countries in Africa and South Asia for the 2015 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Foreign Press Award.

In his keynote address, 1999 CNN African Journalist of the year winner, Mr. Declan Okpalaeke, urged science journalists to be more proactive in tackling science-related issues that affect Nigerians.

He said, “Reporters should do good research on these issues and look for areas that have not been covered. We need more explanatory science journalism.”

During the event, Chairman, NAS Prize Committee, Prof. Gabriel Ogunmola, announced the inauguration of a new prize for Nigerian scientists to celebrate scientific work of outstanding merit in the “life sciences and physical sciences categories, to encourage the study of science-based courses in Nigeria.”

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