Investigative journalist, Tobore Ovuorie has bagged the Deutsche Welle (DW) 2021 Freedom of Speech award for her courageous report and fight for freedom of speech.
Ovuorie’s 2013 undercover work inspired the popular Nollywood movie, Oloture.
Oloture tells the story of a Lagos-based journalist who goes undercover as a prostitute to expose human trafficking and finds a world of exploited women and ruthless violence.
“We had to go through the process ourselves. Otherwise, the story would be wishy-washy,” said Ovuorie who is commended for the courage that almost took her life.
DW Director-General, Peter Limbourg said “The Freedom of Speech award highlights the importance of transparency in our work, and it shows the importance of courage in our society. I think the award will help Tobore Ovuorie in her work and hopefully also for her security.”
Throughout her 2013 investigation, the dark underbelly of Nigeria’s crime syndicates imprinted on her own body. Her hair was chopped off, she was beaten, abused, hospitalized and barely escaped murder.
The mental wounds she incurred during her investigation into Nigeria’s sex trafficking cartels have not fully healed until today. She struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Following her 2013 investigation, Ovuorie has continued to choose hard-hitting topics. She has told the stories of trafficking victims in Libya and shed light on the stigmatization of Nigerian children living with HIV. Currently, she is researching the involvement of embassy employees in human trafficking.
When asked whether she regrets putting her life in danger for her reporting, Ovuorie said: “I don’t regret it at all. It has caused people to rethink. I can go to bed and sleep soundly. That, for me, is purposeful living.”