Saturday, May 9, 2020 4:27 pm
.. Reliable defender of rights of journalists
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The sudden death of a foremost Port Harcourt based rights activist and Executive Director, Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, IHRHL, Comrade Anyankwee Nsirimovu, has thrown the human rights community and media practitioners in Rivers State into mourning.
The late Nsirimovu was a foremost defender of journalists. He was always ready to deploy his resources to defend journalists, especially those practicing in Rivers State against attempts by the state apparatuses and security agencies to unjustly punish media them in the course of their jobs.
The family had in Facebook post on his timeline last night, Friday May 8, announced his sudden demise at the Military Hospital in Port Harcourt. where he has been undergoing treatment for an undisclosed illness.
According to the statement, “With utmost gratitude to God for a life well spent, we the Anyankwee family regrets to announce the passing of our husband, father, grandfather, uncle- Anyamkwee. Nsirimovu, today, Friday, 8th May, 2020 at about 11:30am.
“Anyakwee closed his eyes in eternal rest surrounded by his wife and children. An impeccable man till the end, an irreplaceable loss to bear, but we take solace in the life he lived and the hope of eternal life promised us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“We ask that you kindly keep us in your prayers and keep the memory of the Long Distance Runner alive. Words can’t describe this loss but as ANYAKWEE would say- in all things, give God glory. Morning eventually came.”
Since the announcement of his death, there have been outpourings of grief and heartfelt condolences.
Nsirimovu was also a delight to journalists as a source of information as well as because of his passion for fight against injustice and human rights abuse.
He studied International Human Rights Law at University of Essex, England.
In the course of his activism and agitations for protection of rights of the people, Nsirimove and his family at various times, faced attacks, especially from the law enforcement agencies.
One of such instance was recorded on March 4,2007 by the Amnesty International.
“Anyakwee Nsirimovu, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL) in Rivers State, in the Niger delta, was attacked on 4 March, a week after an apparent threat to kill his family if he did not stop his human rights activities. Amnesty International believes that his life may be in danger,” the global rights body said.
Anyankwe belonged to many Local and International human rights groups. He is also an accredited International Observer in Election monitoring.
Ibanga Isine, CNN Award Winner for Investigative Journalism, a former correspondent of Punch newspaper in Port Harcourt, a former Editor in Premium Times and now a Blogger, in his tribute to the late activist wrote: “This is so emotional for me. Anyakwee Nsirimovu was not only a friend and brother, but he defended me free of charge when the Rivers State Police Command unleashed its men to beat me almost to death.
“He has a strong bent for the defence of people’s fundamental rights and often at the expense of his convenience. He has spoken with the crowd and also stood alone to speak on matters that he felt so strongly about.
“There are no words to aptly capture his life and the depth of his commitment to the common good. May God Almighty take him home and grant him rest from the laborious activism that marked his entire life and career. Indeed, MORNING HAS COME FOR ANYAKWEE. God bless you brotherly. God console your family. We shall never forget what you did while here. Good morning my friend”.
Comrade Jaye Gaskiya describe the late activist as “one of the veterans of the anti military and pro democracy struggle, who remained active in the trenches of the struggle to remake our society until the very last has taken his final bow. A courageous titan, an ebullient friend. He was a teacher to many, even as he was ready to learn. And he mentored scores.”