ACF, Afenifere, others extol Mailafia’s virtues
• HURIWA demand investigation into cause of death
Tributes have been pouring in for the late Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Obadiah Mailafia, who passed away yesterday morning.
There were also calls for investigation into the death of the stern critic of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
Aged 64, Mailafia died at Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja, following a brief illness. A cousin, who spoke with him a few days earlier, said the deceased had complained of malaria and catarrh.
Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) issued a statement, yesterday, calling for probe into the death, citing an alarm the deceased raised over alleged threat to his life on September 11, 2020.
“Please, pray for me, I have reasons to believe that my life is in danger and that some powerful forces want to silence me forever for speaking the truth,” Mailafia was quoted as saying.
HURIWA said: “The death of Obadiah Mailafia is highly suspicious and must be investigated.” It also called on the President “to immediately fish out blood thirsty officials working in Aso Rock who are issuing personal threats to human rights campaigners.”
Similarly, National Leaders of Conscience, under the auspices of the National Consultative Front, NCFront, expressed shock and sadness over his demise.
“The movement wishes to condole with the family of Mailafia, praying for the repose of his soul, fortitude and strength for members of his family, and promising investigation into his sudden death,” said Amb. (Ms) Rukaiya Muhammad in a statement, yesterday.
The group also recalled that Mailafia, until his demise, was a member of the National Steering Council and the North Central Facilitator of NCFront, who raised the bar of commitment to the tasks of the movement, constantly advocating a fair, just and equitable governance of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said the sudden death was a great loss to Nigeria. Its National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, told The Guardian that the deceased fought relentlessly to rid the country of its ills through criticisms of the system.
He said: “We don’t know the circumstances surrounding his death, though we heard that he died after a brief illness. Dr. Mailafia had been challenging some of the ills in our country and was also criticised.
“It is really sad that he died. We know that some of his struggles to put the country on a better track are documented. We sympathise with his family and our condolences go to them.”
Also, National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, noted: “One other thing that endeared him to us was his commitment to federalism. He was a person who wanted Nigeria to answer its true name, ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’. He was one of the big voices from the North.”
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) expressed shock over the sudden demise, describing him as a vibrant activist and advocate for a better Nigeria.
National President of the Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, said: “When it comes to fighting for justice, the late Dr Obadiah could not be intimidated. He was a symbol of justice, equity and fairness. He lived a selfless life that cannot be forgotten in a hurry. He was a great nationalist, passionate leader and champion of a true Nigeria that works for every citizen.”
On his part, the Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Plateau State chapter, Yakubu Bawa, who was the head of Mailafia’s legal team during his travail with the Department of State Services (DSS) in Jos, Plateau State, said the deceased was a strong critic of the economic policies of the current administration who canvassed restructuring and fiscal federation.
He said the legacy he left behind will continue to be a shining light and beacon of hope for other activists.
Also, a former Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Chief Akin Onigbinde, noted: “Mailafia was outstandingly courageous. He did not only hold strong opinions on very many national issues, he had the courage of his convictions and the conviction of his courage as well.”