When you talk about cutting-edge investigative reporting in Nigeria one of the most prominent names you must mention is Fisayo Soyombo. This man’s phenomenal investigation of the criminal justice system has made him of the most remarkable investigative journalists in Africa.
Who is Fisayo Soyombo?
Fisayo Soyombo is a Nigerian writer and former pioneer editor of Nigerian online newspaper TheCable. He is managing editor of Sahara reporters with over 15 years experience in journalism. Soyombo started his journey in the world of journalism from scratch and rose through the ranks. He began as a stringer at The Guardian Nigeria, then had stopovers at Harpostrope Limited, The Jobmag, The Will and The Flair as news editor. He moved to the Cable and ICIR to serve as Editor.
Soyombo believes that whatever is what doing is worth doing well so he does not accept have measures at all. Mediocres stay away from him naturally.
Soyombo is not yet 40 (at the time of writing this piece) yet he is already a multiple award winning investigative reporter with huge international reckoning.
His work on Criminal Justice system in Nigeria
Soyombo spent two weeks in detention — five days in a Police cell and eight as an inmate in Ikoyi Prison — to track corruption in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. This dangerous adventure began from the moment of arrest by the Police to the point of release from prison. There was no way he could experience the workings of the system in its raw state except by getting into the police cell. What did he then do? Soyombo adopted the pseudonym Ojo Olajumoke and feigned an offence for which he was arrested and detained in police custody. He was arraigned in court and eventually remanded in Prison. This sounds like a top Hollywood movie script but it happened live and Soyombo was brave enough to see the reality show through.
He then packaged his experiences during his mission in a three-part series that you can’t stop reading until the last line. From the time he was arrested and hauled Inyo a police cell to when he ended up in Ikoyi prison trying to live among other inmates. The investigation was published with collaborative support from Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
You can read the series here. read Part I here
Soyombo who is Editor, Sahara Reporters and Aljazeera contributor also holds trainings in investigative journalism in Nigeria, trying to nurture upcoming journalists on the dynamics required to achieve success in this dare-devil aspect of the journalism profession. One of such memorable training sessions was a master class he held on the 29th of August 2018 on Investigative Journalism for young Journalists at the Civic Media Lab in Lagos. Fisayo who is renowned for his ground breaking investigations and in-depth analysis of topical issues as relating to the ills in our society decided to train more journalists on the nitty gritty of investigative journalism which he described as the heart of journalism the world over.
During that training session, he made some startling revelations that stunned the young journalists in his class.
His presentation was entitled “Undercover Reporting”. While making the presentation, Soyombo stated that undercover reporting is justified when a journalist is aware of an ongoing ill but he or she knows no one will ever give out an evidence as relating to such ills or when the journalist don’t have sufficient information to make a story but he or she simply needs a pictorial or video evidence among other reasons.
According to him, as much as the journalist justifies the need to go undercover, it is expected for such individual to be resilient, positive and also be a problem solver while his eyes and memory should be at alert among other technicalities needed to carry out the assignment. Using his past experiences as example, he stated that investigative stories abounds all around us in the society which we could pick out in conversations, environmental happenings and research. He also notes that investigative reporting must not always be about negative issues but that some positive developments could call for such reporting technique.
Soyombo has really made a mark in Nigeria’s investigative reporting landscape receiving international accolades for his bravery and exceptional journalism practice.