Reflections, Tears As Innocent Chukwuma Goes Home

In Breaking News, Civic Space, Reports

By Jonathan Ugbal

The sleepy and serene community of Umodia, Mpam, Ekwereazu in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State came alive amidst heavy sighs and reflections from family, friends, comrades and colleagues of Innocent Chukwuma gathered to commit him to mother earth.

Innocent passed away on April 3, 2021 leaving behind four Amazons – his wife, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, a native of Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State and three daughters; Chidinma, Amarachi and Nkechi.

Mrs. Josephine had described his passing as a “hit” that shook her “foundation.”

A lifelong learner, teacher and thinker who loved to solve difficult problems, Mr. Chukwuma’s funeral drew attendees from all walks of life whose heads were mostly facing down in deep thoughts while reminiscing the many ways he touched lives via activism and his work in the African civic space.

A lover of written and spoken word poetry, His life was captured in three poems presented by his daughters.

Several activities had held across the country and virtually too as he began his journey home. But, the Vicar of St Silas Anglican Church Mpam, Reverend Canon Enyinnaya Anosike captured most in his sermon drawn from the book of Psalms where he said Innocent took what he was given and blessed humanity with it.

Sharing the parable of the talents, the clergyman averred that: “it doesn’t matter whether life has given you a higher privilege. What matters is what you are doing.”

He posited that everyone has, “an equal opportunity to manifest success at the level and opportunity given to you.”

Anosike who disclosed that he met Innocent for the first time on January 1, 2021, said that he followed the manual God had given him – the scriptures, adding that: “at this point in time, we need more people like Innocent, people who have respect for the sanctity of human life.”

Born in 1966, he was the fifth child of his parents and carved a niche for himself early on as a civic space actor during his days at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he was initially rusticated for unionist activities but was later recalled after fighting his dismissal in court.

He underwent the mandatory youth service scheme in Monguno, Borno State and started life in Lagos as a volunteer for the Civil Liberties Organisation where he spent six years before departing to form CLEEN foundation.

He was noted for his role in police reforms especially with the formation of NOPRIN whose efforts to reform the Police, having gone unheeded by succeeding administrations caused the angst that led to the #EndSARS protests in October 2020.

His funeral was attended by personalities across all walks of life including former lawmaker, Emeka Ihedioha, Omono Adedeji who represented the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, Uche Onyagocha and Navy Commodore Patrick Effah.

From the civic space, Benson Onugbo led colleagues from the CLEEN foundation which he formed 23 years ago, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, Jude Ilo, Lanre Arogundade, James Ibor and Glory Eteng among others.

Furthermore, representatives of Ford Foundation, neighbors, former foreign affairs minister, Professor Viola Onwuliri were present.

Below are some images from the funeral mass…

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