Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights lawyer, says Yinka Odumakin, the late national publicity secretary of Afenifere, was committed to a united Nigeria anchored on power devolution.
On Saturday, Odumakin died of COVID-19 complications at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
Many prominent Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari, have paid tribute to Odumakin.
Reacting in a statement, Falana said Odumakin married Josephine, who is from the Igbo extraction, owing to his belief in national integration.
He said the deceased often called him to discuss the state of the nation and seek clarity on constitutional matters despite their ideological differences.
“Notwithstanding our ideological differences, Yinka consistently called on me to discuss the state of the nation and seek clarifications on major constitutional matters,” he said.
“He also referred several cases relating to the infringement of the human rights of the poor and vulnerable members of the society to our law for legal redress.
“As a believer in national integration, Yinka married his comrade and girlfriend, Josephine Obiajulu of the Igbo extraction. In spite of the pressure recently mounted on him by some separatist groups Yinka remained committed to a united Nigeria anchored on power devolution from the centre to the other federating units.”
Giving details of how the deceased started activism, Falana said: “Yinka Odumakin was an undergraduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University (1986-1989). He was a member of the Alliance of Progressive Students (ALPS). Based on his defence of students’ rights Yinka was elected the Public Relations Officer of the Students Union (1987-88).
“That was the time that the Ibrahim Babangida military junta embarked on the deradicalisation of the universities in order to weaken the capacity of the Nigerian people to resist the imposition of the Structural Adjustment Programme.
“During the 1988 convocation ceremony of the University the late Vice-Admiral Patrick Koshoni who had stood proxy for the visitor and military President, General Babangida.
“The students staged a peaceful protest against the recolonization of the country by imperialism. For leading the protest, Yinka and seven of his colleagues were expelled from the University. My principal, the Late Comrade Also Aka-Bashorun dispatched me to Ife to challenge the expulsion of the student activists at the Oyo State High Court.
“The trial judge quashed the expulsion and ordered the reinstatement of Yinka and his colleagues.”