National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Chidi Odinkalu, is on the 2014 Human Rights Tulip, the Dutch government’s highly-prestigious human rights award.
He is on the list of 30 nominees for this year’s edition of the award. An online voting, which ends October 10, is currently on to prune the nominees to three. An independent jury will then select the winner of the award from the three leading contenders.
Mr. Odinkalu, who heads the Africa Programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative, is a recognised defender of human rights in Nigeria and Africa. He is one of Africa’s foremost human rights lawyers whose perseverance, doggedness and passion for the truth has shone light in the alleys where darkness holds siege across the continent.
Through his courage and determination, Nigerians and the world have known the truth about the unlawful Apo killing, the Baga Massacre, ongoing inquiries into cases of illegal demolition and forced evictions, and dozens of other gross violations and abuse of human rights across Nigeria. Panels of Inquiry set up by the National Human Rights Commission have uncovered the many facts and truths that authorities wished to conceal from the public. Chidi, who has presided over many of these inquiries, has himself being the subject of harassment and threats. Yet he has remained resolute in speaking loud and clear against immunity to impunity.
Mr. Odinkalu’s influence cuts across Africa. At a time, he was part of the team that represented the widow and survivors of Norbert Zongo, publisher of L’Independant newspaper, who was savagely killed in 1998. Zongo at the time of his death was investigating a murder linked to the brother of Burkina Faso’s president.
Odinkalu is never afraid to speak out against injustice in all sphere of government and its noteworthy that his efforts is being recognised internationally.
Right groups in the country are mobilizing support for Mr. Odinkalu ahead of the October 10 count down for votes.
Supporters are encouraged, according to the call up advocacy campaign, to “use your various information dissemination platforms to call on our audience to vote for him” and the status of the country is brought in to reinforce the campaign. “Imagine the world’s most populous black nation rallying in one voice to support a tested and proven human rights crusader.