Human rights activists, lawyers, jurists, labour leaders, members of civil society organiations and a host of others on Tuesday, paid glowing tributes to the late activist and lawyer, Mr Bamidele Aturu, at a special colloquium organised in his honour ahead of his burial on Friday in Ondo State.
The colloquium with the theme “Struggle for Social Change in Nigeria” was held at the Abibatu Mogaji Model Secondary School, Dopemu, Agege, Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
The late human rights activist died at the age 49 after a brief illness on 9 July.
Speaking at the event, Biodun Aremu, a representative of organised Labour and Secretary, Joint Action Front (JAF), said the late human rights activist defended the various affiliates of labour union in court for free on several occasions.
He urged his colleagues to rise up for fairness and justice the way Aturu rose up for a better Nigeria, adding that the late lawyer never looked back and never exercised fear.
He said the best way they can honour Aturu, whom he said was on several occasions at the forefront to defend the defenseless Nigerians, was to continue the struggle where he stopped.
Aremu described him as a rare gem, who used all what God gave him to defend the masses.
“He was part of the brains who drafted the labour law we are having today,” Aremu said.
A frontline human rights activist and Senior Lecturer at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Mr Femi Aborishade, said the human rights community has lost a big opportunity in person of Bamidele Aturu, saying he was a leading voice for the cause of social justice.
Aborishade noted that the human rights community needs to come together again and mobilise in order to sustain and actualise Aturu’s struggle for a better Nigeria.
Another human rights activist, Mr Wale Ogunade, described Aturu’s death as a big loss to the Nigerian human rights community and the development of the law profession.
He said Aturu always stood on the path of truth and that was why he was never tainted in anyway as an activist.
“He was one of the few good lawyers who was always ready to test the veracity of controversial laws,” he said.
Executive Director of Community Life Action Project, a civil rights group, Mrs Ngozi Iwerre, said the majority of Nigerians were disillusioned about the situation in the country, hence the pain they feel about the exit of Aturu at this time the country needed him.
“The high rate of unemployment, poverty and corruption in the country were some of the things Aturu fought against.
“We must use the social media to create a mass movement in the struggle for change in Nigeria. Aturu is gone, he left the duty for us,” she averred.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, Mr Yinka Farounbi, also poured encomium on the departed lawyer.
He said while Aturu was alive he always came around to participate in the activities of the Bar, especially all that enhanced the growth and the development of the law.
Some of the dignitaries who were also present at the occasion include human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, Adebayo Onanuga, Kunle Ajibade, Biodun Aremu, Femi Aborishade, Mrs Ayo Obe former president of Civil Liberties Organisation, Lanre Arogundade Director, International Press Centre,IPC, the immediate past chairman of Ikeja NBA, Monday Ubani and others.