Chief Innocent Chukwuma, head of Ford Foundation West Africa has died of blood cancer. He was reported to have died on Saturday in a Lagos Hospital, and was aged 55.
According to the report by the Peoples Gazette, a close friend, Edetaen Ojowho who spoke about the death of Chief Innocent Chukwuma said:
“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.
“He stood no chance by the time diagnosis came through,” added another long-time associate Chidi Odinkalu, who also noted that the acute myeloid leukaemia, aggressive destroyer of blood and bone marrow, that claimed Mr Chukwuma’s life was diagnosed at end-stage.
He was survived by three children.
The death came as Nigeria’s tenacious civil society community was reeling from the demise of Yinka Odumakin, who succumbed to COVID-19 complications on Saturday morning also at 55.
Chief Innocent Chukwuma left a broad mark of selflessness around West African civic space after spending decades advancing the cause of a better society for the long-suffering population of the region.
After playing active roles as a political activist and community organiser against the brutal dictatorships of 1980s and 90s, Mr Chukwuma later established the CLEEN Foundation in 1998 to press for lasting reforms in criminal justice and other critical areas of lack in Nigeria and West Africa.
In 2012, Ford Foundation announced him as its lead in West Africa, resuming in 2013 and, over the period, established a workable, decent and productive relationship with leading civic groups and government agencies across the region.
The ˜Ford Foundation described Mr Chukwuma as the recipient of numerous honours, including the Reebok International Human Rights Award. He was also cited as having served as visiting lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he designed and taught a course on the management of nonprofits in the Global South.
He held a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Leicester and a bachelor’s degree in religion from the University of Nigeria in the country’s South-East.