Tributes pour in for late human rights crusader Ariyo Dare-Atoye.

Mr Dare-Atoye, known as Aristotle, was described as a humble man who sacrificed all for the development of humanity and his country, Nigeria.

Family members and friends of late human rights crusader, Ariyo Dare-Atoye, on Friday paid him emotional tributes at a service of song/wake organised in his honour.

Mr Dare-Atoye, the Executive Director of Adopt a Goal Initiative and former staff member of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), died on October 27 in Abuja at the age of 41.

At a service of songs held at the Redeemed Christians Church of God (RCCG), The Everlasting Arms Parish (TEAP), Garki Abuja, Mr Dare-Atoye, known as Aristotle, was described as a humble man who sacrificed all for development of humanity and his country, Nigeria.

A tearful human rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, who could not control his emotion, described Mr Dare-Atoye as a humble man who was considerate even in his death.

He also described Mr Dare-Atoye as a dependable friend who stood by him for over two decades, even when he (Adeyanju) was arrested and put in prison.

“Dare-Atoye was always diplomatic and I am always the problematic one. I learned so many lessons from him. He was always the peacemaker. He was just amazing and always considerate.

“Even in death he was considerate. He didn’t want to stress anybody. He didn’t want to labour us. He was just an amazing soul,” Mr Adeyanju said.

He said the biggest way to keep the legacies of the deceased was for political actors to play by the rule in 2023 general elections.

“All through his life, one of the things that Dare-Atoye was known for was the Electoral Act and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

“We hope that politicians will not subvert BVAS, allow votes to count and the will of the people to prevail. That is the biggest way to sustain his legacies.

“He was always at the forefront of electoral reforms advocacy, even when he was standing alone in front of the National Assembly, he was always consistent on this issue,” Mr Adeyanju said.

A pro-democracy campaigner and 2023 Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, described Mr Dare-Atoye as a nice, selfless, unassuming and very humbled young man who was dedicated to the development of democracy in Nigeria.

“He was one of the best mobilizers you have in the activist movements in Nigeria.”

Mr Sowore said it was as if Mr Dare-Atoye knew he was going to die when he called for free and fair elections in 2023 in his tweet, urging all concerned authorities to honour him with the request in the next general elections.

On his part, the Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, Dr Sam Amadi, said that Mr Dare-Atoye impacted heavily on individuals’ lives, electoral reforms, democracy and the nation, more than his age.

Mr Amadi, the former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said that Mr Dare-Atoye’s activism was non-partisan.

“Most things that we do, it was Ariyo who spearheaded them. For example, Charly Boy and Deji, all of us were involved in ‘Our-Mumu-Don-Do’. It was Ariyo’s idea.

“I knew when the electoral reform was rolling to a brick wall, there was no hope, I called him and said that it was like this thing won’t work. They will not sign it.

“He said ‘doctor, let’s try again. Let’s keep trying.’ Ariyo kept trying, he kept pushing with his usual diplomacy, usually very quiet but with effective leadership, we got the result we got today.”

Mr Amadi said that when Ariyo was sick, they all rallied round him to fly him abroad but the cancer was so swift that it took him within three or four weeks.

He, however, said that his friends were consoled by Mr Dare-Atoye’s life that was dedicated to truth, humility, love, service to the country and patriotism.

“Ariyo was totally detribalised, he really understood the need for us to build Nigeria on the basis of common human rights, on the basis of development and on the basis of truth and courage.

“Ariyo cuts across Muslims, Christians, and all kinds of people. He was a fantastic person, and we mourn him,” Mr Amadi said.

A member of the Nigeria Civil Society Organisations, Andrew Imatome, described Mr Dare-Atoye as the best hand among Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria.

Mr Imatome urged CSO members to quickly bring up someone to step into the vacuum created by the death of Mr Dare-Atoye.

“Dare-Atoye can die for you. He single handedly sponsored the electoral reform. He was so real and so natural. He was better than me. I hope I can copy his lifestyle,” Mr Imatome said.

Yusuf Olaniyonu, a Special Adviser to former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, described Mr Dare-Atoye as an honest person who always stood by his words.

Mr Olaniyonu said that the role played by Mr Dare-Atoye towards passing the 2022 Electoral Act by the National Assembly and towards signing of the bill into law by Mr President would not be forgotten by Nigerians.

He advised the federal government to give Mr Dare-Atoye a posthumous award.

“I think we should not wait for the Federal Government to do so. Every organisation interested in the development of our political process, and the maturity of our electoral process should honour Dare-Atoye for that singular act he stood for.”

Professor Abiodun Adeniyi, Department of Mass Communication, Baze University, Abuja, said though Mr Dare-Atoye died at a young age, his legacies outlived him.

“Life is not really about longevity. Life is about substance. The guy died a young man, but he left substance behind.

“As somebody who wants social transformation, social change and he gave his life to it. He died in the process,” Mr Adeleye said.

The Country Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, described Mr Dare-Atoye as an astute strategist, bridge builder, a dependable man who meant a lot to her and the CSOs.

“We’ve lost one of a kind. A remarkable human being and someone who I’m very proud to call my brother.”

Ndi Kato, the spokespersons, the Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign Council, described Mr Dare-Atoye as a good and honest man, dedicated to his work.

“The entire time I knew him, I’ve never seen him angry. He was dedicated to his work.

“He was an anchor for a lot of the work we do. Every time you call upon Dare-Atoye he was always ready to deliver, always ready to show up,” Ms Kato said.

In his sermon, Pastor in-charge of the Parish, Evaristus Azodoh, advised all those at the service of songs to reflect on the legacy they would leave behind and where they would spend their eternity.

“A lot has been said about Dare-Atoye, but should you answer God’s call now, where will your spend your eternity? What legacy would leave for your children?

“This is a question we must all think about because we will all die one day,” he said.

Mr Dare-Atoye was born on March 24, 1981, in Igbara-Odo, then Ondo State and present-day Ekiti State. He was a trained journalist who earlier worked with NAN.

He later had a stint with the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF), Ogun State, and the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geoscience (NIMG) in Jos.

According to his biography, Mr Dare-Atoye once returned money erroneously paid into his account by NAN, back to the federal government, after he had resigned.

He issued a cheque in favour of NAN and called a former Managing Director of NAN, late Remi Oyo, to inform her of his decision.

A memorial/evening of tribute for him is scheduled for Saturday at Unity Fountain, Abuja, while his body departs Abuja for Ekiti on Sunday, November 6, and burial in Ekiti on Monday November 7. 

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