Leading human rights attorney, activist, author, intellectual, Oronto Douglas passed away in the early hours of Thursday, April 9, 2015.
Until his death, Douglas was a Senior Special Advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research, Documentation, and Strategy. He was a close confidant of the President and was instrumental to Jonathan’s victory in the 2011 elections.
A world renowned environmentalist, Douglas, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009, an illness that he fought till his death in the State House Clinic, Abuja.
In 1995, Douglas served as one of the lawyers on the defense team for the Ogoni leader Ken Saro Wiwa, who was executed by Nigeria’s military rulers in 1995. He co-founded Africa’s foremost environmental movement, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and has served in the board of several non-profit organizations in Nigeria and around the world. Though he has been arrested and tortured by successive military regimes, he continues to work for and speak out on issues of social justice in a corporate-military state.
Oronto Douglas was the first Niger Delta activist to be hosted by a serving American President – he presented the Niger-Delta struggle at the White House to President Bill Clinton. He was a fellow of both the George Bell Institute (England) and the International Forum on Globalization (USA).
Widely traveled, Douglas has presented papers in over 200 international conferences and has visited over 50 countries to speak and present on human rights and the environment. He is the author of several works including the ground breaking, Where Vultures Feast, Shell And Human Rights in the Niger Delta which he co-authored with his friend Ike Okonta.
Oronto Douglas has been named among the 20 most influential writers, thinkers, and activists in the world. Mr Douglas was listed in a recent book “Political Awakenings: Conversations with History” by Harry Kreiser the Executive Director of the Institute of International Studies, University of California. Mr Douglas was selected with 19 others, from 485 interviews of people which the book described as “distinguished men and women who by the power of their intellect and strength of character shape the world.” Mr Douglas made the Science, Food and The Environment: Movement for Justice category which comprised select individuals that have challenged corporate power which seeks to disproportionately reap the benefits of science and technology to the detriment of the society.
He was married with two sons.
May his soul rest in peace.