Former Ford Foundation director Innocent Chukwuma dies of cancer

Innocent Chukwuma activist and Ford Foundation director is dead

Civil society leader and former West Africa director, Ford Foundation Innocent Chukwuma has died.

Mr Chukwuma died late Saturday of blood cancer, according to his friends.

“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,” his friend Edetaen Ojo said in a message. “May his soul rest in peace.”

A long-time associate Chidi Odinkalu said Chukwuma was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

Survived by three children, the civil society leader died in Lagos.

Chukwuma founded the CLEEN Foundation in 1998 to press for lasting reforms in criminal justice and other critical areas of lack in Nigeria and West Africa.

He was appointed Ford Foundation executive in 2012, but resumed in 2013.

The Ford Foundation described 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.

Chukwuma’s death comes at the time the country is yet to recover from the shock of the demise of Afenifere spokesman Yinka Odumakin.