Human rights activist and one of Nigeria’s renowned civil society leaders, Innocent Chukwuma, has died Saturday evening in Lagos after battling with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
A close friend of his said he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer of the blood.
“With profound shock and sadness, I regret to inform you that Innocent Chukwuma passed away a few hours ago, in the evening of April 3. May his soul rest in peace,” announced Edetaen Ojo, an executive director of the Media Rights Agenda, who was a friend of Chukwuma.
Chukwuma, 55, came to public attention first as a student union activist at the University of Nigeria. He read religious studies in the eighties when Nigerian students led relentless campaigns against military autocracy.
Upon graduation, he joined a cluster of young activists who came to bloom at the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Nigeria’s first human rights organisation led for most of the nineties by Olisa Agbakoba, now a member of the velvet rank of the legal profession called senior advocates of Nigeria.
At CLO, Chukwuma, a father of three daughters, graduated in law and was called to the bar last year.
He who holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Leicester in the UK, served from January 2013 until recently as the Ford Foundation’s representative for West Africa.
He also served as a member of the boards of many global nonprofits and initiatives against crime and violence, including the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC), African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF), Open Society Global
Criminal Justice Fund and the Africa Advisory Council of Human Rights Watch.
Before joining Ford Foundation in 2013, Mr Chukwuma founded and led the CLEEN Foundation to promote public safety, security, and accessible justice in West Africa.