Mazeed Mukhtar Oyeleye writes,

Abdulrasheed Hammad was still trying his hands at Investigative Journalism when he realized he was walking into an abyss of risks. Thanks to the accuracy of his findings amid an investigation that almost cost him his studentship at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), he is in his final undergraduate year at the university, studying Law.

Hammad, the Vice-president of the National Association of Campus Journalists, UDUS (NACJ-UDUS), started writing in 2018, reeling out a chain of opinion pieces, reports, and a few features as a campus journalist. He would later venture into Investigative Journalism in 2020. He dug into issues at his university and wrote investigations, one of which got him into the bad books of the university management.

Three years—and several journalistic endeavours, including mainstream investigations, on-campus journalism roles and awards, national award nominations, honorary mentions, wins, a series of training and fellowships—later, Hammad has broken into the international limelight.

At the PAJI Ceremony, which took place at the Eugenie Rokhaya Aw Ndiaye Amphitheater in Dakar, Sénégal, on the eve of Wednesday, April 26, he clinched the silver prize. He came second in the online category of the PAJI awards—after Senegalese Mustapha Darboe.

Hammad, who joined the ceremony virtually, marvelled at his fortune, saying, “I am so excited to be amongst the top three winners of this Africa Prize for Investigative Journalism (PAJI) Award”. Aside from the recognition of claiming the silver prize ahead of several journalists across Africa, his “first international award as an investigative journalist” made him 500,000FCFA richer.


The African Prize for Investigative Journalism, or PAJI, the acronym of its French name, Prix Africain du Journalisme d’Investigation, is a brainchild of the Franco-African platform of journalists, Médias & Démocratie (M&D).

M&D started the prize in 2021, holding the maiden edition in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Aiming to encourage Investigative Journalism in Africa and highlight the brilliant works of African media professionals, an international jury populated by African journalists assesses the entries.

For the 2023 edition, M&D collaborated with the Centre d’Études des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI or Center for the Study of Information Science and Technology) from the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Sénégal, to sustain its drive to value, promote and defend Investigative Journalism in Africa.


Hammad admitted that “when I applied for the award, I didn’t expect to be shortlisted since it is an international award”. However, his faith made his leap of fate a feat he now considers “an encouragement for me to do more impactful stories”.

He produced his award-winning story, ‘[INVESTIGATION] Abandoned Health Projects Litter Sokoto Despite Multi-million Naira Investment’, through The ICIR’s Open Contract Reporting (OCRP) programme, with funding and support from the team.

The story exposed a chain of corrupt practices in the Sokoto State procurement system but also exposed Hammad to a handful of risks. He had to don sleeves of courage in the face of fear, bureaucratic friction, and fancy distractions.

In his words, “While doing the story, I received threats from contractors. Some threatened to carry me with DSS and others with court cases. One contractor even rained curses on me. But I didn’t relent since I planned to balance everything in my report. They even offered me a bribe to kill the story, but I rejected it and was very careful to prevent myself from physical attacks”.

“I also faced challenges in getting access to some important information to enrich my story further. The FOIs issued to the concerned authorities were unattended. Despite the threats and other challenges, I made sure I did justice to the story,” Hammad revealed.


Reliving his sojourn as an investigative journalist, Hammad said, “I started Investigative Journalism proper in 2020 and wrote many stories that were published in The Nation. One of my earliest stories actually implicated me because I wrote about the outrageous and unfounded charges the university [UDUS] levied on students. But those were campus investigations”.

“My first investigation in the mainstream, which was published by Campus Reporter, was on JAMB upgrade. I exposed people who defraud UTME applicants via social media. I also wrote about admission scams under the guise of getting the applicants admission. Then I wrote another about online fraudsters. And that was how I started this Investigative Journalism journey,” he recounted.

Justifying his particular interest, Hammad maintained that “Investigative Journalism is superb; the best route to excellence in Journalism. Investigative Journalism gets more priority because it is the best way to hold public officers accountable”.

“I understand the risks involved in Investigative Journalism but I am only trying my best to ensure I produce quality stories and to be of great impact to my community, state, and the whole country,” he concluded.

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