Popular human rights lawyer cum activist, Barr Ken Atsuwete, was yesterday, gunned down at Aluu Community, in Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that the human rights lawyer, who is involved in most of the human rights related cases in and outside the state, was gunned down in the early hours of Monday, August 29, 2016, and died shortly after he was taken to Nimi Briggs Hospital, inside the University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT, due to excess bleeding.
Nigerian Pilot further gathered that the assassins cornered the slain human rights activist as if to ask him for some help, and then shot him severally and escaped immediately.
Reacting to the sad incident, the Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, IHRHL, where the late Atsuwete also worked, Mr. Anyankwe Nsirim-Ovu
Ken Atsuwete, lamented the dastardly act of the assassins.
He lamented: “Worthy Itsekiri son, Human Rights Lawyer/Activist of repute was gunned down early hours of today. Ken is handling some of the politically sensitive human rights matters in Rivers and indeed in the region. He is outspoken. He is the lawyer on the Ojukaye Amakiri matter. He is with us on the ignominiously dismissed TIMARIV and Bori Polytechnic staff by the Rivers State government, matters at the Industrial Tribunal, Yenegoa. He was with us on the Social Levy Double Taxation Law and we won the state.
“He was there at the just concluded NBA conference where he presented a paper I was billed to present on behalf of Joseph Otteh of Access to Justice, who was unable to make Port Harcourt. Because I was on another key program, on short notice he had to do it. That was how close and ideologically committed to the cause of human rights and participatory democracy activism, we are. His last outing on Radio was last Saturday on Today Fm95.1 on the matter of the Tai Eleme INEC rerun election announcement and the controversial court injunction that followed. He expressed his legal opinion well to the generality of the listening public, nothing more.
“From the law school, over a decade ago, he walked into my office and said he was interested in our yeoman’s human rights work at the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. I simply showed an office and desk after a brief discussion. He spent years at the IHRHL, all of us learning the ropes. Even when he moved on to put up Human Rights Alliance, an NGO, and his Chambers, he never left the Institute. He is family. He’s like a son. He never frowned at hardwork. Most fearless and of course never liked by powers that hate truth being told.
“Ken as he’s with us at the IHRHL, developed a clear sense of universal responsibility. He learnt to work not just for himself, family, ethnic nationality, or nation, but for the benefit of humankind – their liberty. Ken strongly believed that freedom should be defended by truth, when attacked by lies, and by democratic faith when attacked by authoritarian.
“This morning he was shot outside his house. He couldn’t survive the profuse bleeding. And one more critical voice of reason and dissent silenced. And if the killer or killers think, believe that weapons of human destruction can kill speech in this part, they are seriously mistaken. Adieu Ken. The tears can’t stop now. You played your role. You put in your best in our human rights crusade for the rights of others. It is not how long, but how well. You’ll remain fresh in my bossom till we catch up again.
“Despite the many, very many serious security problems facing Rivers State, a spirit of optimism is still present in our hopes for the future in the human rights community. Ken cannot die. He lives on. So is the spirit of democracy and human rights.”
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in the state confirmed the incident, but did not give further details.

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