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Ayo Ogunsola Obe - The Indomitable Vanguard of Democracy and Human Right in Nigeria's History

Obe was President of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigeria’s first and oldest indigenous human rights organization, from 1995 to 2003, a period spanning the despotic rule of General Sani Abacha and Nigeria’s return to civilian rule in May 1999. 

Ayo Obe was for many years the President of the Civil Liberties Organisation, which was at the vanguard of Human Rights Struggle in Nigeria. She took over from Mr Olisa Agbakioba during General Sani Abacha's military era. For many years, she has been a strong voice in human rights, legal and social movements, as well as democratic reforms in Nigeria. She Strategized, planned and mornitored how Nigeria moved from Military rule to Democracy.

The story of Nigeria’s return to democracy cannot be told without including her. She was born on May 24, 1955 in the United Kingdom and attended the University of Wales where she obtained her LLM degree. Obe is also a Columnist and TV presenter. She was the President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and was among the strong voices that advocated for the actualization of Chief MKO Abiola’s 1993 presidential election victory. She has been listed as one of the heroes of June 12. Her passport was seized in March 1996 while leaving Nigeria to attend a meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee in New York. The government action was not unconnected with her activism.

For the past few decades, she has been an important figure in the country’s social, legal, and human rights movements. From 1999 to 2001, Obe chaired the Transition Monitoring Group, an election-monitoring and democracy-building coalition of Nigerian non-governmental organisations. She also represented human rights NGOs while at the Police Service Commission (PSC) from November 2001 to 2006. She was part of the team that championed the campaign ‘Bring Back our Girls’ in 2014, when 276 female students aged from 16 to 18 were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria.

She serves as a managing partner in a Lagos based law firm named Ogunsola-Shonibare and sits on the board of multiple civil society organisations such as Goree Institute and Vice Chair of the board of the International Crisis Group.

Obe chairs the Board of Trustees of the Gorée Institute (Senegal) and is Co-Vice Chair of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.  In Nigeria, she is a member of the boards of the CLEEN Foundation (formerly the Centre for Law Enforcement Education), the Z.O. Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries and the community-based Ajegunle Community Project in Lagos.

Obe was Chair of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy from 2004 to April 2008 and ex officio was on the African Democracy Forum’s steering committee. She participated as a member of the International Advisory Group of the Managing Global Insecurity project of the Brookings Institution, and New York and Stanford Universities. Obe has also been a panelist at the Oslo Forum, the Beijing Forum and the Women’s Forum.

She is an active member of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, and coordinates the African Book Group in Lagos. 

She is a participant in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, which was created to push for government action in the wake of the abduction of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok local government area of Borno state, Nigeria. Her weekly segment on IDEAS radio show is supported by the Mac Arthur Foundation and gets Nigerians thinking in a more critical way about issues relating to integrity, their democracy, ethics and accountability. 

She Strategized and Planned the progress of Nigeria through countless organizations including bodies for People with Disabilities 

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City People Magazine 

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