By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Monday, mourned a foremost human rights activist in the Civil Society Community in Nigeria, the Founder and Pioneer Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Innocent Chukwuma.
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, in a statement described Chukwuma as an exemplary Civil Society leader and renowned human right activist with great sense of humour.
Rafsanjani who was sad said the late activist the distinguished himself in relentless fight for democracy, human rights and good governance in Nigeria.
He said: “An exemplary Civil Society leader and renowned human right activist with great sense of humour and character brewed in undaunted spirit of patriotism, nationalism and activism, late Innocent Chukwuma distinguished himself in the late 1980s while demonstrating uncommon interest, objectivity and professionalism in the relentless fight for democracy, human rights and good governance in Nigeria.
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“These outstanding qualities were brought to bear when he joined other well-meaning students within the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) platform in peaceful protests against the arbitrary powers of the military rule, while exhibiting resilience and unity of purpose in advocating return to democracy in Nigeria.
“At the early stage of his career in Civil Society, Mr. Chukwuma was recognised as one of the pillars of Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), formed largely to promote human rights in Nigeria.
“The deceased’s outstanding performance was further acknowledged and respected by his former boss also one of the renowned human rights activist and former Executive Secretary of CLO and CAPP , late Emma Ezeazu, through whom We became very close friend since 1995.
“Each time he came to Abuja We used to visit his two sisters who are living in Abuja. When Innocent was going to leave CLO he was consulting with Emma for guidance.
“His profound legacy and the tireless struggle for mainstreamed civility and respect for human rights especially in the operations and conduct of security forces led to the establishment of Centre for Law Enforcement and Education (currently known as CLEEN Foundation) with a unique focus on promoting public safety, security and accessible justice.”
He also recalled that “Mr. Chukwuma through demonstrated programmes and activities at CLEEN Foundation intensified vigorous campaign for Police reform in strategic moves and constructive partnership that led to the amendment and passage of Nigeria Police Force (Establishment) Bill by the National Assembly and its assent by the President in September 2020.
“While working assiduously to bring Police reform to the limelight, Mr. Chukwuma had contacted the Civil Society Legislative Centre (CISLAC) to give thorough attention and contribution to the legislative component of the Bill. Through wider inputs and consultations, CLEEN ensured review of the new Act is more responsive to international standards.
“Mr. Chukwuma, who I would regard as one of the successful Civil Society activists in the country, throughout his professional life dissociated himself totally from the recurring pressure triggered by ethnic, and religious disparity, but rather strengthened his patriotic mindset for impartiality and intellectuality in well-informed decisions, actions and reactions on critical issues affecting democracy, human right and security reform.
“I, therefore, hope his dogged principles and priceless contributions to good governance, human rights, and security sector reform at all levels would be upheld and galvanised.”
He added that, “While his demise remains uncommon, sober, reflective, and continues to test our collective resolve as citizens of Nigeria, I sincerely pray may his soul rest in peace. Also pray for his Wife Josephine to keep the dream of CLEEN Foundation.”