ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Innocent Chukwuma. We will remember him forever.
Posted by Olufunke Baruwa on April 16, 2021
Curtains Fall for a Perfect Gentleman!

Ode to a good, good man...

How does one say goodbye to Nigeria and Africa’s finest, a perfect gentleman?
Innocent Chukwuma, I’ll never forget you: boss, brother, mentor, friend. Thank God for the gift of you, thank you for being a living example and departure from toxic masculinity and patriarchy. Your legacy lives on! Rest in power and peace.

Innocent Chukwuma, now your watch is over! May God wrap His arms of comfort and love around my sister Josephine Effah-Chukwuma and the children. Thank you for sharing him with us, Innocent really belonged to everybody!
Posted by Jide Nzelibe on April 14, 2021
A tribute to Innocent from Jide Nzelibe

I met Innocent many years ago during the summer of my first year of law school. I had come from the United States to do a summer internship at the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), and Innocent was then on the CLO staff working on policing issues. We immediately struck up a close friendship. This was during the heyday of the Abacha administration, and the CLO was on the forefront of fighting against all kinds of human rights abuses. The reality is that working in that kind of environment in the mid-1990s required a fearless love of humanity and rare courage. Innocent had both of these in spades. Beyond his dedication to his work, however, he was also a giving and generous friend. During my short three-months stint, he introduced me to the best informal eateries in Lagos, invited me to various social events attended by human rights activists, and we even took trips out of town together. 

Later on, after he got married to Josephine, and then started a family, we stayed in touch. The family eventually grew and they had three beautiful daughters—Chidinma, Amarachi, and Nkechi. He and Josephine hosted me in Lagos many years later at their lovely home. And much later on, our families have gotten to know each other and our spouses—Uzoamaka and Josephine—have also bonded. Ever the optimist, Innocent had helped found a new non-profit—the Center for Law Enforcement Education—and he steered it in such a manner that it became a well-respected and formidable organization in all matters of policing and law enforcement. He was conscientious and was well-versed in policing best practices from around the world, and had a burning passion to incorporate those best practices in Nigerian community policing.  His feats as a CLEEN leader won his plaudits at home and abroad, and he eventually won the Reebok Human Rights Award, and the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.  Later on in his career, he served as the Director of Ford’s West Africa office.

Innocent had many outstanding qualities, as a friend, family man, mentor, and community activist. But I want to focus briefly on two of his qualities. First, Innocent had a passionate love of ideas and intellectual inquiry. Second, he was a tireless advocate for decency and our shared humanity.

First, his sense of intellectual curiosity.  Innocent had an incredible appetite for humanistic discussions. He had majored in religion at the university, and had strong and informed opinions about the role of religion in political life. He also had very engaging views on a range of other political and social issues. His strong passion for ideas and serious conversation often led him to surround himself with others in the Lagos area who felt the same.  Thus, a dinner spent with Innocent and Josephine could easily transpire into long and deep discussions of all manner of social, religious, or political issues.

Second, I wanted to say a word about innocent’s decency and humanity. Innocent was, to the core of his soul, a person who believed in serving others. He cared deeply about individual flourishing and spent a significant part of his life trying to ameliorate the suffering of others, especially those in police custody or facing long-term incarceration. He believed his duty as a community activist and social entrepreneur included expanding opportunities for those trapped in cycles of poverty or unemployment.  He left the world a better place.

He will be sorely missed.

Posted by Atedo Peterside on April 9, 2021


Tribute to Innocent Chukwuma (1966 - 2021)
-------------------------------------------------

I was always struck by the fact that our mutual friends and associates assumed that Innocent Chukwuma and I had known each other for a very long time. In reality, our paths only crossed for the first time around 2014. 

I was a late addition to an email chat group that Innocent and a few other friends belonged to and so I first got to meet Innocent through the views he expressed on important national issues before I met the man in real life. Ours was therefore essentially a virtual interaction which metamorphosed into a real life engagement. 

What brought Innocent and I together therefore was the power of his written ideas and his penchant for analysing complex national problems honestly and sincerely. It was also about the depth and quality of his insights. I loved reading Innocent's emails because they were overflowing with remarkable insights and dotted with subtle hints regarding the best way forward. His style was never explicit nor forceful. He wrote like somebody who was more interested in teaching you how to fish than in serving you fish to eat.

Eventually, Innocent and I established contact offline because the feelings that his writings evoked in me were similar to what my modest written contributions evoked in him; perhaps a case of birds of the same feather flocking together. For the record, Innocent was by far the larger bird, but it is fair to say that our relationship blossomed on the strength of mutual respect. Innocent made it clear that he respected me, not on account of my corporate and business experience, but more on account of my interest and desire to speak up for the common man and the common good. These were the exact same things that I respected Innocent for, especially since many of his insights were deeper than mine.

If I only met Innocent in 2014, then I shudder when I recount the long list of very remarkable people, who mean well for Nigeria, and whom Innocent went out of his way to introduce me to. These were not business tycoons. They were largely men and women who were serving Nigeria in a variety of ways and who loved their fatherland and were ready to sacrifice their time, energy and limited resources to fight for the greater good. In a nutshell, Innocent helped to embed me within an ecosystem that was sincere and highly motivated and from which I drew lots of oxygen and also gave back some oxygen periodically.

When the COVID-19 threat became very real from March 2020 onwards, Innocent was one of the first people I contacted to become a member of the 18-member Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank. This was a voluntary assignment and his assigned responsibilities included linking us up with Aid agencies and other NGOs as well as reaching out to the NCDC, whom we were determined to support. Innocent achieved all of this in record time and also got Ford Foundation to help contract an Epidemiologist that would support our work, as an Adviser, in the early months.

There were too many other rich engagements to list here e.g. Impact Investing, the educational element of ART X Lagos which focused on sponsoring and exposing under-privileged school children under the Ford Foundation umbrella to attend the West African art fair. Innocent spoke in terms of possibly unearthing a future Ben Enwonwu or Van Gogh by catching them young.

A friend is gone but his impact has not gone with him. It is ironic that his last argument with me was about Impact Investing. I eventually declined a formal role, but opted to be a friend of the project. Little did I know that Innocent's greatest impact on many of us would be the ideas he left us with and prepared us to run with but without his continuing physical presence. 

My regular joke with Mr Chukwuma was that he was not "innocent" because he was constantly trying to lure me out to play greater roles on matters that concerned the common good. I invited him for what would have been a last supper last week. Innocent could not make it because he was unwell. It never occurred to me that it would be our last discussion. Even that last discussion was about urging me on. It was never about himself and that is the greatest memory of all. 

Rest in Peace my friend.

My condolences to Josephine, the children and the rest of the family.

God bless you all.


Atedo N A Peterside CON

Posted by Ndidi Nwuneli on April 6, 2021
Tribute to my dear brother and champion – Innocent Chukwuma

I first heard about Innocent Chukwuma in 1999 during my summer internship with the Ford Foundation Office of West Africa. Dr. Akwasi Aidoo and Dr. Adhiambo Odga spoke so highly of this fantastic social change agent and activist. When I eventually met him a few weeks before the summer ended, I was in awe as he recounted his struggles during the military regime and his passion for police reform. In 2002, I established LEAP Africa, and we became co-labourers in the Nigerian development landscape. We connected at Ford events and other civil society gatherings. With each encounter, I was struck by Innocent's humility, brilliance and passion for social change. I also met his amazing wife – Josephine Effa-Chukwuma, the founder of Project Alert and a globally recognized social entrepreneur. I was genuinely inspired by their partnership in life and parenting, friendship, and commitment to transforming Nigeria through their individual and collective efforts.

In 2008/2009, as the Ford Foundation was preparing for this 50th Anniversary in Nigeria, I profiled some of its leading grantees. I was delighted to reconnect with Innocent and interview him about the impact of the CLEEN Foundation. Learning more about his journey and work was fascinating. Our mutual respect began to grow, and we started dragging each other into different initiatives. I invited Innocent to participate in Ola Ndi Igbo in 2013, where he played a very prominent role in leading discussions about economic development and security in the Southeast.

When Innocent eventually took over the leadership of Ford Foundation as the Representative for the Office of West Africa, he provided tremendous support to LEAP Africa, Sahel Capital and the African Philanthropy Forum. He even hosted local philanthropists in the Ford Office when his dear friend, Chris Stone, visited the country. He supported the 2nd Ola Ndi Igbo gathering in 2015, which he credited with inspiring his creation of the Oluaka Institute. Innocent also formally hosted the launch of my book – "Social Innovation in Africa: a practical guide for scaling impact", in the Ford Foundation auditorium in 2016.

In the same year, Innocent and I were in Kigali for the African Transformation Forum, organized by ACET. We spoke extensively about the impressive Kigali Genocide Memorial and the urgent need to create similar spaces in Nigeria during the conference. Innocent commissioned an initiative on Centers for Memory and Heritage and a book on the National War Museum in Umuahia.
Building on his passion and vision, and in partnership with other Nigerians, we established the Center for Memories (CFM) in Enugu in December 2017, with our first exhibition focused on "Igbo Contributions to Nigeria and the World." Innocent brought one of his amazing daughters to Enugu for the launch, and I marvelled at their strong bond. He was indeed a devoted and engaged father!

In the days and weeks following the formal launch of CFM, we engaged in monthly calls on achieving the vision and objectives of the Centre. Innocent soon became my go-to person for any new idea on transforming Ala Igbo, Nigeria, and insights into the political climate and civil society's role. He was a great thought leader and an outstanding champion! His response to any issue was always rooted in history, the global context, and a social justice perspective. We discussed a range of topics – from police and election reform to raising the next generation of civil society leaders to strategic philanthropy in Nigeria and impact investing! I reached out to Innocent during the COVID-19 lockdowns to plan for relief efforts in the Southeast and sustain the momentum of the #EndSars Movement.

Late last year, when Africans in the United States National Basketball Association (NBA) wanted to learn more about engaging in their home countries, I called on Innocent once again. I watched online as Innocent awed the celebrities with his brilliant insights!

My last formal encounter with Innocent was during Sahel Consulting's International Women's Day celebration on March 8th 2021. When my team members asked why we would invite a man to serve as our keynote speaker, I boldly and proudly informed them that Innocent was the most authentic male champion in Nigeria. We could learn so much from his life's example – as a husband, father, and advocate for so many women. Once again, he blew us all away with his brilliance, wisdom and humility. Thankfully, we have this fantastic lecture recorded to inspire future generations.

Africa has lost one of its brightest stars - a fantastic husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, thought-leader, visioner, change agent, and social entrepreneur! Innocent has left enormous shoes to fill in the African civil society, community development, impact investing and philanthropy landscapes! His life of service, passion, vision, generosity, humility, and brilliance will continue to challenge and inspire me!

My only consolation is that we got to celebrate him during his send-off party from the Ford Foundation. During his lifetime, he heard us tell the world how he had changed our lives!

I will continue to pray for Josephine, the three wonderful daughters and the entire family. We are here for you four amazing ladies, and we will try to continue to push forward many of the projects and plans that Innocent started! May His soul rest in perfect peace, Amen!

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Olufunke Baruwa on April 16, 2021
Curtains Fall for a Perfect Gentleman!

Ode to a good, good man...

How does one say goodbye to Nigeria and Africa’s finest, a perfect gentleman?
Innocent Chukwuma, I’ll never forget you: boss, brother, mentor, friend. Thank God for the gift of you, thank you for being a living example and departure from toxic masculinity and patriarchy. Your legacy lives on! Rest in power and peace.

Innocent Chukwuma, now your watch is over! May God wrap His arms of comfort and love around my sister Josephine Effah-Chukwuma and the children. Thank you for sharing him with us, Innocent really belonged to everybody!
Posted by Jide Nzelibe on April 14, 2021
A tribute to Innocent from Jide Nzelibe

I met Innocent many years ago during the summer of my first year of law school. I had come from the United States to do a summer internship at the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), and Innocent was then on the CLO staff working on policing issues. We immediately struck up a close friendship. This was during the heyday of the Abacha administration, and the CLO was on the forefront of fighting against all kinds of human rights abuses. The reality is that working in that kind of environment in the mid-1990s required a fearless love of humanity and rare courage. Innocent had both of these in spades. Beyond his dedication to his work, however, he was also a giving and generous friend. During my short three-months stint, he introduced me to the best informal eateries in Lagos, invited me to various social events attended by human rights activists, and we even took trips out of town together. 

Later on, after he got married to Josephine, and then started a family, we stayed in touch. The family eventually grew and they had three beautiful daughters—Chidinma, Amarachi, and Nkechi. He and Josephine hosted me in Lagos many years later at their lovely home. And much later on, our families have gotten to know each other and our spouses—Uzoamaka and Josephine—have also bonded. Ever the optimist, Innocent had helped found a new non-profit—the Center for Law Enforcement Education—and he steered it in such a manner that it became a well-respected and formidable organization in all matters of policing and law enforcement. He was conscientious and was well-versed in policing best practices from around the world, and had a burning passion to incorporate those best practices in Nigerian community policing.  His feats as a CLEEN leader won his plaudits at home and abroad, and he eventually won the Reebok Human Rights Award, and the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.  Later on in his career, he served as the Director of Ford’s West Africa office.

Innocent had many outstanding qualities, as a friend, family man, mentor, and community activist. But I want to focus briefly on two of his qualities. First, Innocent had a passionate love of ideas and intellectual inquiry. Second, he was a tireless advocate for decency and our shared humanity.

First, his sense of intellectual curiosity.  Innocent had an incredible appetite for humanistic discussions. He had majored in religion at the university, and had strong and informed opinions about the role of religion in political life. He also had very engaging views on a range of other political and social issues. His strong passion for ideas and serious conversation often led him to surround himself with others in the Lagos area who felt the same.  Thus, a dinner spent with Innocent and Josephine could easily transpire into long and deep discussions of all manner of social, religious, or political issues.

Second, I wanted to say a word about innocent’s decency and humanity. Innocent was, to the core of his soul, a person who believed in serving others. He cared deeply about individual flourishing and spent a significant part of his life trying to ameliorate the suffering of others, especially those in police custody or facing long-term incarceration. He believed his duty as a community activist and social entrepreneur included expanding opportunities for those trapped in cycles of poverty or unemployment.  He left the world a better place.

He will be sorely missed.

Posted by Atedo Peterside on April 9, 2021


Tribute to Innocent Chukwuma (1966 - 2021)
-------------------------------------------------

I was always struck by the fact that our mutual friends and associates assumed that Innocent Chukwuma and I had known each other for a very long time. In reality, our paths only crossed for the first time around 2014. 

I was a late addition to an email chat group that Innocent and a few other friends belonged to and so I first got to meet Innocent through the views he expressed on important national issues before I met the man in real life. Ours was therefore essentially a virtual interaction which metamorphosed into a real life engagement. 

What brought Innocent and I together therefore was the power of his written ideas and his penchant for analysing complex national problems honestly and sincerely. It was also about the depth and quality of his insights. I loved reading Innocent's emails because they were overflowing with remarkable insights and dotted with subtle hints regarding the best way forward. His style was never explicit nor forceful. He wrote like somebody who was more interested in teaching you how to fish than in serving you fish to eat.

Eventually, Innocent and I established contact offline because the feelings that his writings evoked in me were similar to what my modest written contributions evoked in him; perhaps a case of birds of the same feather flocking together. For the record, Innocent was by far the larger bird, but it is fair to say that our relationship blossomed on the strength of mutual respect. Innocent made it clear that he respected me, not on account of my corporate and business experience, but more on account of my interest and desire to speak up for the common man and the common good. These were the exact same things that I respected Innocent for, especially since many of his insights were deeper than mine.

If I only met Innocent in 2014, then I shudder when I recount the long list of very remarkable people, who mean well for Nigeria, and whom Innocent went out of his way to introduce me to. These were not business tycoons. They were largely men and women who were serving Nigeria in a variety of ways and who loved their fatherland and were ready to sacrifice their time, energy and limited resources to fight for the greater good. In a nutshell, Innocent helped to embed me within an ecosystem that was sincere and highly motivated and from which I drew lots of oxygen and also gave back some oxygen periodically.

When the COVID-19 threat became very real from March 2020 onwards, Innocent was one of the first people I contacted to become a member of the 18-member Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank. This was a voluntary assignment and his assigned responsibilities included linking us up with Aid agencies and other NGOs as well as reaching out to the NCDC, whom we were determined to support. Innocent achieved all of this in record time and also got Ford Foundation to help contract an Epidemiologist that would support our work, as an Adviser, in the early months.

There were too many other rich engagements to list here e.g. Impact Investing, the educational element of ART X Lagos which focused on sponsoring and exposing under-privileged school children under the Ford Foundation umbrella to attend the West African art fair. Innocent spoke in terms of possibly unearthing a future Ben Enwonwu or Van Gogh by catching them young.

A friend is gone but his impact has not gone with him. It is ironic that his last argument with me was about Impact Investing. I eventually declined a formal role, but opted to be a friend of the project. Little did I know that Innocent's greatest impact on many of us would be the ideas he left us with and prepared us to run with but without his continuing physical presence. 

My regular joke with Mr Chukwuma was that he was not "innocent" because he was constantly trying to lure me out to play greater roles on matters that concerned the common good. I invited him for what would have been a last supper last week. Innocent could not make it because he was unwell. It never occurred to me that it would be our last discussion. Even that last discussion was about urging me on. It was never about himself and that is the greatest memory of all. 

Rest in Peace my friend.

My condolences to Josephine, the children and the rest of the family.

God bless you all.


Atedo N A Peterside CON

his Life

Innocent

Innocent Chukwuma worked at the foundation's office in West Africa. From Lagos, he oversaw all grant making in the region, supporting efforts to ensure that all people have equal access to economic and social opportunities. In managing this work, he addressed issues of democratic and accountable government, freedom of expression, and sexuality and reproductive health and rights.

Innocent was a globally renowned advocate for human rights and good governance. Before joining the foundation in 2013, he founded and led the CLEEN Foundation, to promote public safety, security, and accessible justice in West Africa. CLEEN was the first African nongovernmental organization to receive the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. In addition, Innocent held various posts within the Civil Liberties Organization, one of Nigeria's first human rights organizations. He was also the chair of the Altus Global Alliance, a global network of nonprofits.

Innocent was the recipient of numerous honors, including the Reebok International Human Rights Award. He 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.

He is survived by his wife and 3 children
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