Voice of America reporter Ibrahim Ahmed is among the recipients of the 2015 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award, announced December 16 in Washington. The awards honor the courage, integrity and professionalism of individuals in reporting the news on U.S. government international media.
Ahmed, a journalist with VOA’s Hausa Service, spent weeks traveling through Nigeria’s Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states during the height of Boko Haram terror attacks in early- 2015. The extremist group, now allied with ISIL, has killed or kidnapped thousands of Nigerians. Ahmed’s daily on-the-scene coverage in English and in his native Hausa language brought stories of survival and resistance to audiences on VOA digital platforms, and radio and television broadcasts across Africa and around the world. Ahmed faced considerable danger after extremists condemned his reporting, forcing him never to sleep in the same place twice while on the lengthy assignment.
“I feel that I have the obligation to bring the story to the world,” Ahmed said. “I was born and grew up in this part of Nigeria where, because of vicious attacks by Boko Haram, people are being killed and displaced, the economy is devastated.”
Ahmed’s comprehensive coverage of the country’s historic elections featured interviews with voters, party leaders, a former military ruler, the vice president, and Nigeria’s winning presidential candidate -- Muhammadu Buhari. Ahmed also organized broadcast town hall meetings with youth leaders and election commission officials to discuss ways to prevent a reoccurrence of post-election violence in Kaduna state.
Quoting from the citation recognizing Ahmed’s service, Acting VOA Director Kelu Chao noted that Ibrahim Ahmed’s journalistic integrity exemplifies “dedication to the advancement of the cause of freedom and democracy.” She added, “I am impressed with Ibrahim’s courage and commitment to reporting on such a difficult subject. He literally risked his life to bring to a wide audience the human story of the devastation caused by these terrorists. His stories had great impact.”
Also honored with Burke Awards were the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani Service Baku Bureau; Alhurra documentary producers Leila Bazzi, Pierre Jad and Georges Chawah of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service reporter Shohret Hoshur; and engineer Jose Alpizar of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.