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Civil society leader, Innocent Chukwuma, dies at 55

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Tributes: 'Innocent Chukwuma's death, great loss, unbelievable'
Innocent Chukwuma

…Buhari, Fayemi, Agbakoba, others mourn

…He was a man of decency —Odinkalu

By  lnnocent Anaba & Johnbosco Agbakwuru

While the human rights and activists community was just coming to terms with the demise of Yinka Odumakin, Innocent Chukwuma,  another pillar of the movement died Saturday night.

A statement, yesterday,  by Professor Etannibi Alemika on behalf Board of Trustees, CLEEN Foundation, confirmed the death of its 55 years old founder, Innocent Chukwuma. The statement, said, “We are extremely saddened to announce the death of Mr Innocent Chukwuma on April 3, 2021. He was the founder of and Pioneer Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation. Until February 2021, few weeks ago, Innocent Chukwuma was the West African Head of Ford Foundation.

“Innocent Chukwuma was a patriot, who throughout his adult struggled for a Nigerian nation, where peace justice, development and security are attained and sustained. He was one of the students within the NANS platform that opposed the arbitrary powers of the military rule in the 80s. He continued the struggle as a staff of the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, where he led research and advocacy on police reform.

“In 1989, Innocent Chukwuma established the Centre for Law Enforcement of Education in Nigeria registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission as CLEEN Foundation, which is now a leading NGO in the Policing and Public Safety Sector. While we are extremely saddened at his premature transition to eternity, we are consoled by the legacy he left behind.

“Our prayers, thought and condolence go to his family, Josephine, daughters and the extended family. The Trustee, Board of Directors and staff of CLEN Foundation will miss his imagination, compassion and humour. His legacy lives on.” He died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, diagnosed end-stage sadly. He had no chance by the time the diagnosis came through.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has paid tribute to the civil society leader, Innocent Chukwuma, describing him as a credible voice of transparency who died when the nation needed his services most.

Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu in Abuja said, “His demise will be badly felt because of his great contributions to our efforts to ensure transparency and good governance under our democratic system. “Chukwuma worked actively with the administration through CLEEN Foundation, to monitor the spending of the last tranche of $311 million repatriated funds recovered from former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

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“Extolling the virtues of the civil society leader, the President said he will be remembered for his remarkable record and dedication to the cause of good governance, transparency and accountability in Africa.

“He extended his heartfelt condolences to Chukwuma’s family and the civil society organisations in the country, praying God to grant the soul of the departed eternal rest and comfort for all who mourn,” the statement added.

Speaking on the unfortunate incident, one of his close allies and comrade in civil right crusade, Chidi Odinkalu, told Vanguard that his friend, Chukwuma, “passed before the needle could be inserted.

“He was a man of decency.

“I knew him for nearly 35 and I am grateful for the privilege. In all things, as my late mum always said, we must learn to give thanks. He was a man of decency.” Also, Resource Centre for Human Rights and  Civic Education, CHRICED, has mourned  the passing of  Yinka Odumakin and Innocent Chukwuma.

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, tweeted: “Still distraught from Yinka Odumakin’s demise, Bisi and I woke up to the most devastating shock of Innocent Chukwuma’s death. Innocent was an outstanding colleague and friend from our days at the barricades. Our thoughts are with Josephine and the children. May he rest in peace. JKF.”

Former Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, tweeted, “It’s still a haze to think of Innocent in the past but there we are on this strange journey on earth.”

Ford Foundation, President, Darren Walker, tweeted, “My colleagues and I @FordFoundation  are saddened and grieving the loss of our magnificent colleague Innocent Chukwuma.  He led Ford’s West Africa program with intelligence, passion, humility and compassion.  Our deepest condolences to his beloved wife Josephine and daughters.”

Senator Shehu Sani, tweeted, “Innocent Chukwuma; another tragic loss of a patriot. Death hath taken away one of the brightest. May his soul rest in peace.”

Kate Henshaw, tweeted, “It’s hard & painful to refer to such a man of character, integrity, honesty and calm mein in the past tense. Death is so final. Adieu Oga Innocent Chukwuma. God comfort your dear wife, my sister, Josephine and your amazing daughters.  God is still in charge.”

Atedo Peterside, tweeted, “News of Innocent Chukwuma’s death has shattered our Easter Sunday. A stalwart and colleague on the ANAP Foundation #COVID19 Think Tank, Innocent will be sorely missed. He stood and fought for the common man and was a respected civil society leader. #RIP.”

Clement Nwankwo, tweeted, “Incredibly huge loss, the death of Innocent Chukwuma. His contribution to Nigeria’s democracy and development is enormous and he will be very much missed. My condolence to his wife, Josephine and children. May his soul rest in peace.”

Femi Falana, SAN, tweeted, “I was in Accra yesterday when the news of Yinka Odumakin’s death struck me like a ton of bricks. I returned home last night only to be confronted with the tragic news that Chukwuma has passed on to eternity.

“May the souls of the departed rest in perfect peace while our thoughts and prayers go out to the bereaved families.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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