An Igbo sociocultural organization, Nzuko Umunna has expressed sadness over the death of Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere National Publicity Secretary and Innocent Chukwuma, a member of Nigeria Civil Liberty Organization.
In a statement sent to Elombahnews and signed by its Secretary General, Paschal Mbanefo described Yinka Odumakin as an endearing bridge builder and invaluable link between Afenifere and Nzuko Umunna.
It also said that Innocent Chukwuma was a leading light of the civil rights community in Nigeria, having risen from his days as a student union activist to a pioneer of the human rights movement.
The statement read in part: “It was with shock and immense sadness that we received the news of the passing of Afenifere spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin and our member, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma.
“Odumakin was an unrelenting progressive and activist whose commitment to human rights and social justice was without doubt.
“He was an endearing bridge builder and invaluable link between Afenifere and Nzuko Umunna. Not only was he passionate about strengthening the bond and solidarity between the Igbo and Yoruba, he participated actively in walking the talk. His active role in delivering the maiden “Handshake across the Niger” conference made the initiative a huge success and culminated in the formidable alliance that now exists between the peoples of Southern Nigeria.
“On his part, Chukwuma was a leading light of the civil rights community in Nigeria, having risen from his days as a student union activist to a pioneer of the human rights movement.
“He was an active member of Nzuko Umunna whose cerebral interventions and strategic vision will be sorely missed by the think-tank.
“In line with his longstanding commitment to peace-building and promotion of human rights, Chukwuma led the Nzuko Umunna team to mediate the impasse between the state and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), who was then detained at Kuje Prison in the Federal Capital Territory.
“His sundry roles as the immediate past West Africa Director of Ford Foundation; Founder of CLEEN Foundation, Nigeria’s leading Police reforms advocacy group; a leading member of Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) and Campaign for Democracy (CD) which led the sustained campaign for the revalidation of the June 12 Presidential Mandate, to name a few, have cemented his legacy as a consummate human rights advocate.
“Nzuko Umunna is deeply saddened by the loss of these great activists and patriots whose indelible footprints have pushed the frontiers of democracy and human rights.
“We commiserate especially with their spouses and families, the human rights community and entire country on their passing, and urge the Federal Government to honour their legacies.”